Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 13, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

12:00 pm
senator barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon, served in the legislature in wyoming, has been a tremendous advocate on many issues, none more important than the health care debate we had. senator barrasso, as someone who hasn't been too long in washington, already been elected to the leadership in the republican party, well deserved as a result of your proven abilities, but how do you feel like we're handling the american people's money, and what thoughts do you have? mr. barrasso: well, it's my impression, mr. president, that in so many ways, washington gets it wrong. the senator's correct, and i appreciate your leadership. i did have the opportunity to serve in our state legislature in wyoming for five years. the constitution in wyoming says you have to balance your budget
12:01 pm
every year. mr. sessions: well, did do you that? mr. barrasso: we balanced our bg every year, just like the families in wyoming have to balance their budget every year have, to live within their means. that's what we do. you take a look at the revenue and then you don't spend any more than that. you live within your means. that's what families do. it's what the state does. and that's why i was so proud to stand with you as one of the cosponsors of the balanced budget amendment to the united states constitution. i think this country has to balance its budget and do it every year. you know, the president's spokesman yesterday, the kind of word of the day seemed to be at the white house, vision. he kept saying the president was going to give his vision. the day before the word was "balance," and in the press conference he kept saying the word "balance." i would like to have a vision that we have to balance the budget of the united states. that's what i want to hear from the president today when he gives his speech at 1:30 this
12:02 pm
afternoon. i don't want to hear some recycled speech about well, raise taxes but that's what i'm anticipating from the president. and i've talked to people in wyoming and after church on sunday morning and they've seen you on monday -- or sunday morning talk shows, like last week with bob schieffer, and "meet the press" before that and they said, do you know that senator and i said yes, i do. and they say, well, he makes us proud because he talks about the kind of values we have, living within our means, balancing our budget. not leaving our children or our grandchildren with mountains of debt. they agree with you when you make your statement about the -- and i think you quoted someone from the budget commission about this is a predictable crisis that's coming. you know, mike mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs, said that our greatest threat to our nation's security is the debt. and look at how much we owe to foreign countries. significant amounts to china. you cannot continue to be a
12:03 pm
great nation with a debt like that to foreign countries, often money is owed to people who are not our friends, who don't necessarily have our own best interests at heart. so it's incumbent upon us as a nation to get the spending under control. that's what i see as the main issue. and hearing senator isakson on the floor and senator blunt and others talking about this, it's -- it's why all 47 republican senators together, unanimously endorsed the idea and cosponsored a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. because we know that's the responsible thing to do. mr. sessions: i -- i agree with you, that's common sense. let me just ask you, senator barrasso. alabama governor, dr. bentley, fine physician is our governor, he announced that we're going to have to cut through the rest of the year in the discretionary spending 15% because we have a
12:04 pm
constitutional amendment says the budget has to be balanced. what -- of course, we don't have that in washington, but what would you say if the american people, someone asked you, well, senator, i hear tha the presides proposing a 11% increase in education, 10% i increase in the energy department, 10% increase in the state department, $60 billion for the transportation department at a time we're going broke and spending money the likes of which we've never spent before, how would the people in wyoming react to that? mr. barrasso won: well, they'd want to know -- mr. barrasso: well, they'd want to know if whoever would say such a thing is still connected to the reality of the world and trying to live within our means. and you can't do that, you can't do that for very long at all. when you look at the president's budget and you look at the spending that's come out of this administration and you look at the debt that our country has accumulated since the time
12:05 pm
george washington became president, what you see is that from the time george washington became president until the time george w. bush left the white house, this president, through his spending and his budgets, have doubled the national debt in five years and tripling it in ten. and that's what this budget that we had submitted to the congress just not that long ago, a couple of months ago, has done. and now we're going to hear a new -- i'm not sure what we're going to hear today. are we going to hear standing behind the budget, you know? the president put together a debt commission to take a look at this. i'm still not sure where he stands on his own commission, the president's own commission, what his position is on that because they have taken some -- some strong positions. where he is on -- with relationship to the reality that we are facing today with this predictable crisis coming. so it will be interesting to hear what the president says this afternoon and what his new vision might be. mr. sessions: well, i think that's right. we're talking about, is this a
12:06 pm
huge reversal of what we got just two months ago because it didn't address medicare, medicaid, social security, that now we hear he might be addressing? i would just -- you mentioned the debt commission. they spent all last year and most of the last year in studying, hearing experts, becoming exceedingly concerned about the future. mr. erskine bowles, who was chosen by president obama to head that commission, when he first saw the president's budg budget, he said it's nowhere near what's necessary to avoid a fiscal nightmare. i mean, this is really serious. the budget that the president submitted here was rejected by his own chairman, saying it's nowhere near what's necessary to avoid a fiscal nightmare. and it's interesting, and he's followed up to say, this is the most predictable crisis the nation's ever faced. he said it could hit not just for our grandchildren, it could
12:07 pm
impact us now. so i'm like you, don't you think if he's -- the president is going to make a speech and announce a change in his policy that he should do, as the house budget people have done, submit a budget to the congress that can be analyzed by the congressional budget office, scored and we can actually use it as a -- as part of the discussion about how to bring debt under control? mr. barrasso: well, my impression is he should have a responsibility to do that and that it to congress. last week there was going to be a major speech -- i think it was last week, the week before -- a major speech on energy at a local university. and he we want and made a local -- he made a speech on energy and, you know, the headline was, "recycled." kind of it was the same old speech and the same old issues and very little kne new was the. and so the concern is today, we're not hearing anything in front of congress, it's a speech
12:08 pm
at a local university, and i'm hoping to hear what a real vision is, what is -- what is the road map and specifics? and the other -- you know, the other chairman of that commission, of the debt commission, you mentioned erskine bowles, the oafers senato -- the otherwas senator m wyoming, he was quoted today to say, you know, we need specifics. if the president just talks in generalities, that's not going to go very far. and i think specifics is what you've just outlined, as the ranking member of the budget committee, you'd actually like to see numbers on a piece of paper that can be scored and we can go look through that and say will this work, won't this work, how do the numbers add up, let's get into the specific details because that's what we're looking at. when you have a nation that's spending $3.8 trillion or $3.7 trillion and only bringing in $2.2 trillion, the problem is that we're spending too much. mr. sessions: absolutely. and i just have to say, let's be frank about it. we've had one budget submitted
12:09 pm
to both houses of congress from the president just two months ago and it was very irresponsible and has gotten no support that i can see anywhere. but the house has on track it looks like to pass a budget this week that will be forward looking and substantive and alter the debt trajectory we are on. put us on a path to prosperity. because the biggest and really, to me, only real threat to our economic vitality and the -- and our ability to bounce back from this recession is the debt we're carrying. but i have to acknowledge that your former colleague, senator simpson, and bowles said this about paul ryan's proposed budget in the house. that it is -- quote -- "a serious, honest, straightforward approach to addressing our
12:10 pm
nation's enormous fiscal challenges." "our enormous fiscal challenges." all right. they go on to say this -- and i think it is relevant, as you suggested, to the president's speech this afternoon. they go on to say -- quote -- "going forward, anyone who issues an alternative plan to chairman ryan's should be held to the same standard when offering their solutions. we simply cannot back away from these issues." i know that's a firm, strong statement. i know it's probably different from what we're going to hear from the president, which is speech and vision and hopes. but don't you think we do have a right, aren't they correct, this bipartisan commission, appointed by the president, aren't these leaders correct to say we expect you, mr. president, to fulfill your statutory duty to submit a real budget? and if you've changed it from the one you submitted earlier,
12:11 pm
submit us a new budget. mr. barrasso: well, i think that would be the only responsible thing to do because right now congress is dealing with the budget that was submitted a couple of months ago. and those -- that's the confines in which we're working. so it will be interesting to hear what the president says a little -- a little further down the line from now. you know, it is interesting, and i see that senator coats from indiana has just -- is joining us on the floor. i mean, he knows in indiana, you know, families that are trying to live within their means and make ends meet and paying more for gasoline now due to the president's energy policies, about $700 more per family a year for gasoline, and if they're trying to deal with bills and mortgage and kids, it makes it that much harder. so families get it. families know what happens when there's a squeeze and they cut back on their spending. and for other things. and that's what this -- this country needs to do right now. that's what we need to do as a nation. and i'm so glad that senator coats has returned to the senate, because he'd been here previously, has now returned to join us to give us some -- some
12:12 pm
of his sage advice and recommendations and -- and it's really wonderful to work with him. and i know you welcome him as well. but with that, let me just say thanks so much for your leadership and as i told you, the people in wyoming after church say, do you know that guy that was on television this morning? he sure did live by the values that we all have. mr. sessions: i think the american people get it. i think the american people understand that the driving issue of our time is the debt. it threatens every good and hopeful wish we have for the future of our country. senator coats was one of our finest members of the senate. he left us, served as ambassador to germany, spent a number of years in europe, then came back and has been reelected. dan, let me ask you fundamentally this question. pete domenici, you served with pete, he served with a democratic wise lady, alice
12:13 pm
rivlin, on another debt commission. he testified before the budget committee recently, i have never feared more for my country. that was a deep personal statement from pete domenici, who chaired the budget committee in the senate previously. what are you hearing from your constituents i and what's your belief at this time in history about the dangers we face? mr. coats: well, senator, it's interesting you ask that question, because i just left my office in a meeting with pete domenici literally 15 minutes ago. mr. sessions: really? mr. coats: because he came in to express that same -- that same urgency and burden i think, as former chairman of the budget committee here for so many years, he certainly understands the current fiscal situation that we're in. his -- his views echo the voices and views of people across this
12:14 pm
country, from economists, whether they're liberal or democrat, whether they're harvard or indiana university, that have -- have -- and the whole spectrum of the -- saying this is an emergency, this is an urgent fiscal crisis that we face. and the time to do it -- to address it is now, not later. this has to rise above the political considerations for 2012. because our country so the precipice here. and unless action is taken now, it may be -- may very well be too late. you know, we've had a number of these sessions as a caucus and we've even had some meetings with our colleagues from -- from the other party where experts have come before us and -- and, again, not carrying any kind of ideological bent on this thing, but basically saying, look at the numbers, do the math. and, by the way, it's not calculus, it's third grade math. when you spend $3.7 trillion and
12:15 pm
your revenues are only $2.2 trillion, you have a huge $1.5 trillion deficit and this has happened year after year after year. cumulatively, we're well over $4 trillion, and this is -- over just the last three years. and this is going to skyrocket from here. so it's not as if we're at the peak. with the aging population and the increase in mandatory spending coming down faster than we can deal with it, we are in a dire situation. now, the reason i came back to the senate -- people ask all the time, why in the world after a lot of years of service in the house of representatives and the united states senate as ambassador overseas you're of retirement age, why don't you enjoy the fruits of your labors and why would you throw yourself back into the arena here especially at a critical time when the decisions you have to make are not going to be at all
12:16 pm
popular, when the requirements that we're going to have to engage in to do what we need to do are going to be very, very demanding for the sole reason -- the answer is for the sole reason that i also have this great fear within me that we are seeing a country that has been the most prosperous, free country in the history of civilization about to unwind. and we have spent ourselves into a situation where we are literally at the crisis point. and so i came back for one reason and one primary reason only, as much as i enjoy seeing my former colleagues and being in the -- in the business of being a senator and representing the people from indiana, i came for one reason only, and that is i have such a concern about the future of this country. i have three children and eight grandchildren now, another one just born. but it's not just my
12:17 pm
grandchildren, it's america's grandchildren that we're loading a debt on to that they're not going to be able to dig out of that's going to deny their opportunities that we had in our generation, save money so we can go to college and get a good education. so that we can get married and have a family and buy a home and afford to buy a home so that we can -- we can enjoy the opportunities that freedom and prosperity have brought to us as a nation. and it not only affects our domestic living, but it affects our role in the international scene. already nato is saying, we can't do this alone in libya. we need america. america has had -- and i'm not saying -- i'm not getting into the issue of whether we should be enghaidged libya or -- engaged in libya or not. that's not the point. whether it's a tsunmai or
12:18 pm
nuclear accident or a flood or disaster any place else in the world, who's the first to show up and the only one with the capacity to deal with it? the united states. the united states navy, the united states marines, united states troops not carrying guns, carrying water, food. who does the world turn to in times of distress and disaster? it's america. and america's been a generous nation because we've had the capacity to be a generous nation. all of that is at risk. whether it's domestic or international, it's at risk. we know here and the reason for this colloquy is, we cannot solve this problem unless we work together. we don't control two of the three thirds of the government. we control the house of representatives and we've seen what a paul ryan and others have done there, john boehner, to get us started on this process of what we need to do. but we have not done that yet in the united states senate. we're trying to work with our colleagues so we can.
12:19 pm
but in the end, if the president of the united states does not engage in this effort, we will not succeed. we can talk all we want. we can present all the plans that we want, but until the president gets engaged, we are not going to succeed. because he's the one that ultimately has to sign this bill. he's the one that ultimately has to sign off on it. now, currently, for the last three months, he's been totally awol, off doing other things at a time when the house is burning down. i'm hopeful that in just an hour and 10 minutes or so, is my understand, the president will come forward, not with nice phrases, not with jernl general, not with fluff that we heard in the state of the union address, but specifics, here's what his plan is. i hope what i hear from him is that, i, the president of the united states, barack obama, want to sit down and get in the arena with you, republicans,
12:20 pm
democrats, in the house and the senate and work together to avoid this potential crisis and agree that this is not something that we can do in 2013. this is not something that we can play politics with. this is not something that we can defer. we must do it now. i believe the american people -- i can speak for hoosiers in indiana. i can't speak for other states. i believe people in indiana and i think this is true across america understand this better than politicians do. they understand this because they are families that have to meet budgets, they're businesses that have to put the payroll out to pay their employees, that have to -- cannot allow themselves to get so drastically in debt that they're not going to be able to recover. so they're asking us to take leadership, to step up and do it. make decisions not for your personal political future, but for the future of america and the president needs to join us
12:21 pm
in that effort. i'm hoping and praying in an hour and 10 minutes when the president stands up in the white house and presents, finally, to the country, he will do two things: one, say i'm ready to engage and engage fully because this is the number one issue facing the future of america. all is on the line. and, number two, here are my specifics in terms of what i will support and what i will work with. i hope he will say as we have said, this isn't set in concrete, let's work together to see if it really works and really addresses the crisis that we're facing. i thank the senator for his leadership. jeff, you've been out front since day one on this. my friend, johnny isakson, who i think is going to engage here next, senator barrasso, who said some nice words about me. i think we're here for one reason and one reason only and
12:22 pm
that is america is in trouble and we need to step up and do what we can, everything we can to get us back on a fiscal path to -- a path to fiscal health. it won't happen overnight. but if we can certify that we have a plan in place and that we're going to stick with it, we can -- i think we can save this situation and turn it around. so i thank the senator for his time in allowing me to get my two cents worth in on this. i'm here -- i'm here to make the tough decisions and for no other reason. mr. sessions: i thank you, senator coats. and i guess i do -- have been kricritical of the president. maybe people say it's political, but i really feel like any president should look the american people in the eye at this point in history. i called on him before the state of the union address over two months ago now that he should tell the american people we're in this financial crisis.
12:23 pm
that we are not -- the reason we're talking about reducing spending is because we have no choice. you can't spend $3.7 trillion and take in $2.2 trillion. we cannot sustain the debt course we're on as every witness republican and democrat has told us. but i do believe it is a responsibility for the president of the united states who can see this clear and present danger to our future to at least join in and say we've got to do something about it. and he didn't really do that at the state of the union. he hasn't really done it since. maybe today that will be a big change if we get that. and i do believe the senator is exactly right. he has a responsibility under the budget act to send us a responsible budget that changes what we're doing and puts us on a right track. if he wants to do it all by even
12:24 pm
more tax increases and he submitted already which wa was $1.7 trillion in his budget proposal, so be it, put it out there. let's talk about it. but don't deny we're in a crisis. senator isakson understands finance better than any mind -- anybody in this senate and he lived through and provided leadership during the huge financial crisis that we have. it looks like we moved debt from the private sector to the sovereign government sector and that's why we're being warned that we could have a similar-type crisis is what i understand secretary geithner to admit, erskine bowles an alan simpson to admit. johnny, thank you for your leadership. i know you want nothing more than what's best for america and i'd be glad to just give you an opportunity to share your thoughts at this time. mr. isakson: senator sessions, i appreciate the compliment.
12:25 pm
it was probably overstated but it's an honor an privilege to serve with you and senator coats. i want to respond to something said this morning. senator coats and others were with -- he was living on hawaii, the youngest of eight children, the japanese attacked pearl harbor, america went to war with the axis powers and 16 million americans in that generation went to the pacific and europe and because of the g.i. bill eight million went to universities and got bachelor's degrees and started small businesses and industries that took the united states economy to dynamic growth and opportunity to every generation that succeeded him up until now. senator sessions you and i and senator coats and senator akaka who is retiring next year, we are all part of a generation that will at some time leave a legacy to our children and
12:26 pm
grandchildren. you have children and grandchildren, i have them, senator coats does as well, i don't want to be the first generation since world war ii to leave my children and grandchildren worse off than every generation before that left their children and grandchildren. and this economic war that we have on spending and debt is every bit as damaging as a war with bullets an bombs because -- and bombs because with too much leverage, an inably to pay our debt, you have what we had before in the early 1980's where you had double-digit unemployment, double-dij interest rates -- digit interest rates and double-digit inflation. remember when unemployment was 14% and inflation was 12%. it's called a misery index. america started borrowing too much, spending too much and business contracted. we need to make sure we don't have that happen again. because the greatest economic threat to the security of america is runaway interest
12:27 pm
rates, runaway inflation and runaway unemployment. we want to allow free enterprise in america to come back, reduce our deficit over time an and ree our debt over time. we don't have to pay it all off, but we have to stop the increase. we have to get it back in order. i pledge this as senator coats did and i know i heard you say it as well, i will not leave my children and grandchildren worse off than my parents and grandparents. democrats and republicans, presidents, congressmen and senators need to sit down at the american kitchen table and do what we asked of the american people, get our spending in order and look to a brighter, more prosperous future for those who will succeed us. thank you for the time. mr. sessions: let me ask you one more thing. let's take the ryan budget. i think it's far more realistic. the one that was referred to by erskine bowles and alan simpson
12:28 pm
had a serious, honest straightforward approach to addressing our nation's enormous fiscal challenges. it's long term. it deals with medicare, social security, discretionary spending. don't -- i'm optimistic about the future. if we were to put ourselves on that course and send the word to the american people, the american business community, the world financial community that we've gotten our house in order, is that the kind of budget that could unleash growth that we hadn't seen in years now? mr. isakson: it is because it will instill a degree of confidence that we've been finally willing to deal with our long-term deficit and also spending. i want to refer back to statement you made in your previous remarks before you recognized me. challenging the president to bring a budget in this speech that he's going to make in an hour or so, bring it, put it on the tabaka, put -- on the table,
12:29 pm
put the commission's recommendation on the table, put the group of six who are working on another document, put all those on the table. let's don't rule anybody out and let's sit down and one by one go through them and find out what's the best answer and solution for america. it's time to stop the political job of picking and choosing for political purposes. we need to pick and choose for the american people's purpose. if we put everybody's ideas on the table and everybody is genuine about their interest to solve this problem, we can do it and we can begin this afternoon. mr. sessions: and it will -- i think the most important thing, i don't want to be too negative. i think it's very important to tell the american people the truth that every expert we've had has said, you can have a crisis sooner than you think. and we should avoid that. congress and the president should acknowledge it and say we understand it and we're going to take the steps to avoid it. but i -- i have a sense that the united states is still a productive nation.
12:30 pm
you're attune to the business community in atlanta and around the country that people are still willing to work hard, they're still willing to invest and take risks to be more productive and create jobs. but this confidence you mentioned if we restored that confidence, are you optimistic that we can can bounce back? mr. isakson: i'm absolutely optimistic. with all due respect the last couple of years the government has tried to eliminate risk with over regulation of everything. if you eliminate risk, nobody gets out of bed because they feel they're protected. allow people to take a risk to get reward. that's what makes this country and every other country different. give them a platform of predictability, so they will invest their money, employ people. and the interesting thing and the byproduct of that is you have higher revenues. when you have a productive
12:31 pm
america on a progressive tax system, you get higher revenues. if people are more satisfied, they are more happy and more productive. you have less productivity when they are overregulated and under confident. we need to restore the confidence, have fair but equitable regulation, empower the american to invest their capital. we will i am prove employment, improve revenues and improve the future of the united states of america. mr. sessions: thank you. i enjoyed the opportunity to chat about these issues. i would just say this, mr. president. our country requires us to stand up and be counted. nothing comes from nothing, as julie andrews sang in that wonderful song, nothing ever could. things have to be paid for. if you borrow money, you pay interest on it. interest under the budget the president has sent to us last year was $200 billion,
12:32 pm
was $200 billion, $207 billion, i think. and in the 10th year, that budget is scored by the congressional budget office as imposing on the american economy a $940 billion one-year interest payment. johnny, i know you're familiar with georgia. alabama's general fund is less than $2 billion. our education budget is less than $8 billion. we're talking about imposing on the american people an annual interest payment of of $940 billion. the highway, federal highway fund is $40 billion. the federal aid to education is is $70 billion. this is going to crowd out everything. this is why we're on an unsustainable path. we need the presidenten gauged. i hope today we'll initiate his real engagement in which he tells the american people we can't continue this way. so do you want to wrap up with the final? mr. isakson: i will close by saying amen.
12:33 pm
mr. sessions: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i assume my friend from alabama has finished his comments? mr. president, i have 13 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, there has been a live debate on the floor of the senate concerning our budget, our 2011 budget. now we're starting to talk about the 2012 budget, and i just think it's important that we point out what i hope is the obvious, and that the budget of
12:34 pm
our nation represents our vision for our future. it's a policy document that speaks to what our priorities will be. it provides the financial tools for us to be able to meet those objectives. and i know that we're in very difficult fiscal times. this is not the first time in the history of america. let me just remind my colleagues that in the 1990's, we were confronted with a large budget deficit. i happen to have been in the house of representatives during that time. and we saw through the leadership of president clinton that we were able to bring our budget into balance, and we did from large deficits, but we did it in a way that maintained america's priorities and maintained the priorities for our children and our future, because we continued to fund those essential programs that allowed our nation to grow. and as a result of what we did in the 1990's, we saw
12:35 pm
unprecedented growth in our economy because we did our budget the right way. speaking to america's future, speaking to our priorities and doing it in a fiscally responsible way. i think president obama was correct when he stated in his state of the union address that america will meet the challenges of international competition, will do that by outeducating, outinnovating and outbuilding our competitors. well, that requires a budget that speaks to those priorities, a budget that speaks to educating our work force to provide the type of climate where america can continue to lead the world in research and innovation, and that we pay attention to our infrastructure, whether it's transportation, whether it's water infrastructure, whether it's energy infrastructure so that we have the capacity to be able to compete internationally, that we can create the jobs that will be
12:36 pm
critically important for america. we know we need more jobs, we need good-paying jobs, and that's what president obama's vision is about, and our budget needs to underscore that vision. yes, we need to do it in a fiscally responsible way, but we need to do it in a way that allows america's future to be secure. and that is why, mr. president, i so much opposed the budget that was sent over to us from the house of representatives, the 2011 budget, the h.r. 1 before the ability to reach a compromise. i did that because when you look at what h.r. 1 would have done, particularly in light of what the budget agreement we have now reached on the 2011 budget, you can't help but notice a huge difference between our vision for america. when you look at providing for a competitive work force -- and i know we all agree, we have to have a work force that can compete -- look at the stark
12:37 pm
differences between the budget agreement and the house-passed budget. in n.i.h. research -- and i take pride in this since n.i.h. has headquarters in the state of maryland -- most of the funding for our basic research, which is kate cally important for innovation, you can't get to the applied research unless you had the basic research. you can't get those good high-tech jobs unless you invest in basic research. well, thanks to the budget agreement that we have reached, most of the funding will be able to be maintained for the basic research at n.i.h. if the house budget would have become law, it would have been been $1.4 billion less. that would have been a huge hit on america's ability to be able to compete in this global marketplace. well, you also need to have a trained work force. you need job training and job corps programs. most of the funding has been maintained in this budget
12:38 pm
agreement for our job training and job corps programs, whereas if you look at the house-passed budget, they eliminated all the funds for job training and a 40% reduction in the job corps program. that was restored under the budget agreement that allows america to have the competitive work force it needs to meet its future challenges. but perhaps the area that i'll -- that i think people in maryland and the people in minnesota might recognize the most is what happens to pell grants, because i tell you, most students can't make it today unless they have some help in higher education. it's just too expensive to be able to afford without the help of programs such as pell grants. you need to have education behind -- beyond high school if you're going to be competitive today. well, the house-passed budget would have reduced pell grants by 15%. now, mr. president, i can assure you, tuition isn't going down by 15% this year. tuition at our colleges and
12:39 pm
universities are going up, up and up. and i'm proud that we were able in the budget agreement to maintain the maximum pell grants at $5,550. we maintain the funding for race to the top funds because we want excellence in k-12. the house-passed budget would have zeroed out, zeroed out the race to the top funds. head start. to me, if you would talk to a budget that really speaks to america's values, get young children the chance to succeed in school. head start has never been a partisan program. it's been supported by democrats and republicans, because you know why? there is proven results in head start. children that participate in head start will do better. we had those results. it's in our economic interests. the republican-passed budget in the house would have knocked
12:40 pm
218,000 children off of the head start program. it would have reduced 55,000 teachers and aides from head start programs around our nation. mr. president, i am pleased to see that the agreement that we will be voting on shortly restores all of the funds, all of the funds for the head start program so that our children can get the head start they need to succeed in k-12. the budget speaks to our energy policies and transportation policies. it's interesting to look that the agreement reached by the -- by our negotiators restores more than $268 million in renewable energy and alternative energy sources. well, if we're going to be able to be competitive, we need to have an energy policy that makes sense. if we're going to keep jobs in america, we need an energy policy that makes sense fsm we're going to be secure, we've
12:41 pm
got to get ourselves off of foreign oil. if we're going to be fair to our environment, we need to have alternative energy sources that compromise, restores a lot of the funds that were not in the house-passed budget document. and i might talk about one issue that's very important to the people who live in this region. we made a commitment two years ago that the federal government would participate with the surrounding jurisdictions in the funding of the nation's transit system, the washington metropolitan area transit system, which is critically important to get federal workers to work and to our nation's capital. the federal government made a commitment of $150 million a year to help modernize that system. the taxpayers of virginia, maryland and the district are contributeing also to the modernization of a system that is aged and critically important. we live in the second most congested area in the nation as far as commutes are concerned.
12:42 pm
the house of representatives in the republican-passed budget took out that $150 million, took it out. i'm proud that the compromise that was reached restores that that $150 million. our budget speaks to our health and our environment. the health resources services administration was severely cut, severely cut in the republican-passed budget, and it would have affected care in each one of our communities. our negotiators restored restored $900 million to that budget. what does that mean? well, it means that for the 11,000 community health centers that are located in all of our states, that they will be able to continue the services that they're currently providing. now, i have before talked about the greater baden center located
12:43 pm
just a few miles from where we are today, how they have expanded service this year to deal with prenatal care because in america and in maryland, our infant mortality rate is too high. for a wealthy nation, for a wealthy state to have the type of infant mortality rates that we have is inexcusable. it's because we have low birth weight babies. some die, some survive and have a tough time in life and are expensive to our health care system. well, in our health centers, we're doing something about that. at the greater baby center, they're now going to provide prenatal care so pregnant women can get the attention they need and deliver healthier babies. they're going to be able to continue that program. under the house-passed budget, they would not have. the math is simple. we invest in the health of americans. we understand that. that's our budget. the republican-passed house budget would have cut off those
12:44 pm
funds. the affordable care act, we will be able to implement it. we're not going to be stopped as was the efforts made in the republican-passed budget. and as far as the environmental protection riders that we've talked about, these are the policy riders. i know that this is confusing to the people that are listening to this debate to understand that the house-passed budget -- the house-passed budget by the republicans had a lot of policy issues that had absolutely nothing to do with the budget. they block the environmental protection agency from protecting the environment. let me say that again. they block the environmental protection agency from protecting the environment. they couldn't enforce the clean air act, the clean water act for the people of maryland in this region, blocking the enforcement of the chesapeake bay program, a program that enjoys broad support from the people not only of our region but the nation. well, i'm pleased to say that
12:45 pm
the budget that we'll be voting on later this week eliminates those restrictions. all of them are out. and thank goodness they are because they should never have been in the budget document to start off with. now i'll make it clear, mr. president, i'm disappointed by many of the provisions that are included in this compromise. it's a true compromise. it's not what the democrats would have written, i can assure you of that. it's certainly not what the republicans would have written. it's a true compromise, and that's what we need to go through, i understand. i feelĂș -- i feel compelled to let the people of maryland know of the need to reach a compromise. for example, the general services administration will have about a billion dollars less to deal with government construction. what will that mean? well, at white oak, maryland, in white oak, we have f.d.a.'s expansion. well, that's going to be put on hold, which is not only going to affect my comeunt community, itg
12:46 pm
to affect our country, because we are talking about public health and safety. there's a rider that was attached that did survive that deals with the endangered wonderful under the endangered species act. that's not how we should be acting. there's a remedy for dealing with the delisting, there's a process to go through. you shouldn't go down a dangerous precedent that starts congressional action, political action on delisting species that are included under the endangered species act. the cuts for community development block grant are much more than i would like to see. these are programs that are important for our urban centers. at these times when their budgets are being hit the hardest, i think it's very unfortunate that we tell them we're just going to add to their challenges. we should be helping them during these times. we shouldn't be taking resources away from them. the federal transit administration has a major cut in this budget.
12:47 pm
i find that regrettable, particularly as it relates to their new start budget. i come from a state that has major new transit projects that we want to get moving. purple line to connect our suburban areas around washington, the red line in baltimore, the carter city transitway to connect the 270 corridor for high-tech jobs. all those depend upon us continuing to move forward with sensible transit projects that, quite frankly, i think are in jeopardy as a result of the compromises that were needed to be made. teach for america is eliminated, the federal participation in that is eliminated. on monday, i had a chance to teach in teach for america. i was in a high school in baltimore with some very dedicated young people that are willing to give of their lives so america can compete in the future. we certainly should have continued the federal partnership in teach for america. and i talked about the environmental protection agency and i didn't point out that the republican budget in the house cut that agency by 30%.
12:48 pm
30%. well, we restored half of those funds but the cut's still going to be pretty severe. so i just wanted my colleagues to know that whereas i am very pleased that a -- many decisions that were made in this compromise for 2011 budget that will allow us to be able to move forward as a nation for america's vision of being able to outeducate, outinnovate and outbuild our competitors, there are challenges as a result of the compromises that had to be made. and, mr. president, these discussions will continue now to the 2012 budget. we're already seeing that happen in. the house, they're already starting to -- we're already seeing that happen. in the house, they're already starting to act on what we know is the ryan budget, which is pretty much inspired by the tea party. it's pretty extreme, it's pretty radical. it's not a credible plan, in my view.
12:49 pm
it's not a credible plan to reduce the federal deficit. why do i say that? well, the ryan budget concentrates on domestic spending. it doesn't touch military spending and doesn't touch our revenues. let me correct that. it does deal with our revenues but it deals with it in the wrong way. it not only extends every tax break that's currently availab available, providing tax relief for millionaires, but it provides additional tax relief. it lowers the highest rates. how's that going to be paid for? well, they're expecting they're going to take more out of middle-income families. that's bad for middle-income families. but my guess is they're not even going to be able to reach those targets and we're going to have huge deficits as far as the eye can see. it's not a credible plan. the debt commission taught us if you're going to have a credible
12:50 pm
plan to deal with the deficit, you've got to deal with domestic spending, you've got to deal with military spending, you've got to deal with mandatory spending and you have to deal with revenues. you've got to deal with all of them. the ryan budget does not. it's going to be hard for middle-income families. it protects america's wealthie wealthiest. and it attacks our seniors. attacks our seniors. the ryan budget would turn medicare into a voucher program. now, i can tell what you that means in dollars and cents. it means that our seniors who currently have -- currently have -- the largest out-of-pocket costs for health care than any other age group of americans, will see their health care costs go up dramatically, double. and some of us remember what -- how it was for seniors to get health care before we had medicare. they had to fight with private insurance companies. private insurance companies are not interested in insuring
12:51 pm
people who make a lot of claims. guess what, as you get older, you make a lot of claims. what the republican budget would do is tell our seniors, we're going to give you a voucher, now you go -- it's a limited amount of money. now, you go find a private insurance plan out there. and whatever it costs, you're going to have to pick up the difference. and we know it's going to cost a lot more than the voucher we're giving you. that's what they're doing. they're making it more expensive for our seniors to afford health care where they are asking us to reduce their costs, not make it more expensive. but then the ryan budget goes further by block granting the medicaid program. that means, quite frankly, the medicaid program will not survive. we can talk about the hardships it will have on providing health care in our community, how it's going to have more and more people use the emergency rooms rather than using their -- the preventive care or seeing doctors. that's all going to be --
12:52 pm
absolutely happen if we ever were to block grant the medicare program. but let me just follow up on our seniors. many of our seniors depend upon the medicaid system and their families depend upon it for long-term care, nursing care. that's not going to survive. if we block grant that to our states. so the ryan budget not only is incredible as it -- isn't credible as it relates to dealing with the deficit, it also is very punitive against our seniors. but what i find probably the most disappointing part is where i started this discussion, by saying our budget is our vision for our future. it speaks to our priorities for our future. the ryan budget leaves our children behind. if we're going to be able to succeed, we've got to take care of our children. they're our future. we've got to deal with their education. we've got to deal with their health care. the ryan budget puts them at severe jeopardy. it's a -- it's a philosophical document that i don't think represents the values of ameri america. i think our values are in our children and our future and in
12:53 pm
our ability to meet those economic challenges. i think there is a better way. president obama is calling for a comprehensive pro-growth economic strategy that will invest in winning the future. i would hope all of us could embrace that. don't we want a comprehensive pro-growth economic strategy that invests in winning the future? invests in our children? invests in education? invests in innovation? as president obama says, he wants to meet our values for dignity of our retirees. think about that for one moment. how we treat our retirees speak to what we are as a nation. the dignity of our retirees. think about a retiree trying to find an insurance company that will take care of their insurance needs because we dumped the medicare system.
12:54 pm
we can't let that happen. we can't let that happen. there is a better way. 64 of us in the senate have said there is a better way. we have said, look, it's time for us to be serious about a credible plan for our deficit. and we are prepared, 64 of us -- 32 democrats, 32 republicans -- have said we are prepared to not only cut our -- our domestic spending, we'll go after -- we'll look at bringing down mandatory spending and we'll look at military and we're look at revenues. there's a better way to do this. i think we can represent the best of america's future in our budget by providing education, innovation, job growth, health and environment policies that make sense and we can do it with fiscal responsibility. that's our mission. so i know a lot of my employees come down here and say we've got
12:55 pm
to take care of the deficit, do the deficit. i agree with that. but remember, our budget document is our statement about america's future. it's our policy document. and america needs stand up for quality education, for the belt health care in the world. we're encouraging innovation that will give us the jobs of the future so that america can continue to lead the world. i think america deserves nothing less and i intend to continue to fight for that type of vision for america. and with that, mr. president, i notice an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: floor today to tak
12:56 pm
12:57 pm
12:58 pm
12:59 pm
1:00 pm
1:01 pm
1:02 pm
1:03 pm
about the two votes that will occur tomorrow. one -- well, there will be three. one, the passing of the continuing resolution, which i reluctantly support because of the many cuts in it, but also the two riders. one defending key funding the health care bill -- defunding the health care bill and the other defunding planned parenthood. my gosh, how outrageous that we have to vote on these two riders. these two riders do not absolutely affect our deficit and our debt. and, in fact, the health care reform that we passed by the c.b.o.'s own estimates and by independent evaluators say that we will actually reduce health care costs because of what we've done.
1:04 pm
but, mr. president, what i want to talk about is the consequences of what they're talking about. the -- the right wing is trying to change the conversation away from how do we create jobs in this country? how do we authentically reduce deficit and debt in socially provocative riders that wage war against women. now, the extreme wing campaigned against health care. they said they were going to repeal and replace. all they want to do is repeal. they have no idea for replacing. well, let's talk about what they want to repeal. let's talk about the war they're waging against women. if you repeal or defund health care, it will have draconian impact on american women. make no mistake about it in the
1:05 pm
health care bill we ended gender discrimination in health insurance. no longer could insurance companies charge 30% to 40% more than men for the same coverage of equal aging health status. the other thing that we ended was denying women health care on the basis of a preexisting condition. we were horrified to learn that in eight states women were denied health care access -- insurance access simply because they were a victim of domestic violence. they were beaten up in their home. they were beaten up by insurance companies. and now they want to beat them up on the senate floor and beat them up in the senate budget. well, we're going to stand up. we're not going to tolerate women being pushed around and made targets of this war. and no longer can women be
1:06 pm
denied coverage because they had a c-section or because they had a premature baby. then we fought for he preventive services. we fought for mammograms and pap smears. but we fought not only for ourselves, we included for men too -- fought for men too. if you defund health care, make no mistake and every woman in america should know they're going to take the funding for mammograms away from you. they're going to take away the preventive health amendment that allowed you access for preventive screening at no additional co-pace or de -- co-pace or deductibles. sure, you'll be able to have your mammogram but you're going to dig deep in your pocket. so then we also allowed -- so we also fought the fact that -- so we wanted to end gender
1:07 pm
discrimination. we wanted to end the punitive practices of insurance companies towards women on the basis of preexisting conditions. and we also wanted to have preventive care. and one of the greatest preventive care giving agencies is planned parenthood. it is the single -- one of the single most important health care providers to particular young women in america. 8,000 american women -- if we lose planned parenthood, we're going to lose -- maryland -- 8,000 maryland women will lose pap smears. 500 women will lose access to breast care exams. many of them will lose access to health care generally. now, just because the republicans live in the dark ages doesn't mean american women want to go back to them. that's why we, the senate democratic women, will be voting against these two riders. women must be clear, defending
1:08 pm
this amendment are a way to end the war against women. there will be many fights ahead of us. we are under attack. we women and -- we women are under attack at all ages. the paul ryan budget particularly attacks senior women. we're going to fight this. we're suited up. we've squared our shoulders. we put our lipstick on. and, mr. president, this is not about gender. this is about an american agenda and we will fight and we will make our fight a victory. mr. president, i yeeltd floor. -- i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington is recognized. mrs. murray: mr. president, i want to thank all of my democratic women colleagues and speak so passionately as senator mikulski has just done. you will hear from all of us we are outrageous that the price tag for a vote on the continuing resolution is to attack votes on
1:09 pm
women's health. i yield to the senator from california for five minutes. mrs. boxer: i want to thank, mr. president, senators mikulski and murray, senator cantwell and shaheen and stabenow and landrieu. i'm going to really name every single democratic woman. they - have been unbelievable. our republican friends in the house have insisted this debate is about spending. well, i've got to tell you, we went all the way to them about 70% plus on spending cuts. we understand we have to cut, but we're not going to cut foolishly. we're not going to cut into the heart and soul of our country, and that includes women's health programs. women's health programs, mr. president, title 10, planned parenthood funding. for every dollar of taxpayer funds they yield $4, that's how
1:10 pm
great the prevention is. and, yet, still what do they want to do? you see these two riders. these two votes we have to have until they would allow us to have a vote on keeping the government open. they pounded the table and say we have to have two riders. what was it? was it some big budgetary item that maybe we joaferred looked? was it -- overlooked? was it some move that would say to the taxpayers that aren't paying their taxes due like some of the big corporate giants that hire enough lawyers they don't pay? no, it wasn't about that. was it about some scandal that they uncovered that they said could save us? no. the two votes they want are about giving the shaft to women. women and their families, the two votes are about health care which primarily impact women,
1:11 pm
and, by the way, also men. but primarily impact women. so if that's the kind of budget war they're engaged in, they had -- have met us on the battlefield. and we have decided that we will remain on that battlefield, which is this senate floor as long as we have to we will go to the galleries and the press. as long as we have to we'll fight it in our states, we'll fight it in our cities, we will fight it in our counties. we will fight it. and we believe at the end of the day the people will see who is fighting for them. who's fighting for them? now i'm going to just read a couple of letters from my state. my state is the largest state in the union, and planned parenthood provides care for 750,000 women. listen to this woman. planned parenthood is the only health care i've ever used --
1:12 pm
ever, she says. i tonight have health insurance so when i get sick, i get over it as soon as possible so i can go back to work. planned parenthood has provided me with the only health care coverage i can afford. pelvic exams, birth control. it isn't much, she writes, but can you imagine the millions of people who rely on planned parenthood suddenly living their lives without these basic services? and she answer her own question. it's shameful -- it's shameful and that's a letter from sonia kodimer. i have other letters, mr. president. letters from women in my great state. three million americans get care at planned parenthood. three-quarters of them have incomes below 150% of the federal poverty lef.
1:13 pm
they re -- level. they rely on planned parenthood. more than half do as their own health care. by the way the other rider that we have to vote on is to defund health care. my colleagues have said it. senator mikulski, who worked night and day with the late and great and extraordinary ted kennedy to get us to the point where finally we're telling the insurance companies, no, no, no, no, you can't charge women three, four, five times more for the same coverage as man. by the way, being a woman is not a preexisting condition. and if you've had a c-section, you can't deny the woman who had a c-section health care coverage. if you're a victim of domestic violence, that is not a preexisting condition. that is what we repaired in the bill. in addition to many other things we did. they want to give the shaft to women and their families and we're not going to stand for it. barbara haya from oakland wrote
1:14 pm
to me. she said she was a student. when she was a student with limited fund she was denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition. planned parenthood was barbara's only source of basic health care. and when she needed cancer screenings, planned parenthood was there. and she says, "please, please don't cut any funding to planned parenthood becaus." because without them she wouldn't have her health care. let's be clear, nationwide services -- 90% of the services that planned parenthood provides doesn't include abortion. it has never happened for that 3%, that's private funding. so don't stand up and say this is about abortion. it has nothing to do with it. as a matter of fact, if they have their way, and this is a fact, mr. president, and women don't get birth control, we will see more unintended pregnancies,
1:15 pm
we will see more abortions. that is just a fact. anyone who votes to defund planned parenthood, a, they're denying essential health care services to women and their families. and, b, their policy relief to more unintended pregnancies and more abortions. so, yes, we stand here strong and maybe some of us are five feet or under even in a couple of cases, but that belies our determination and our strength. and we stand here united and we say to the people of this country, you can count on us because we will be here as long as it takes to protect women and their families and we will not allow women and their families to be held hostage. it's over, it's over. thank you very, very much and i thank senator murray and senator mikulski, and i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i want to thank my
1:16 pm
colleague from california, and you will hear more from us. frankly, mr. president, we are here today because we are outraged. we strongly opposed the resolutions on the floor that slash health care for women and girls and middle-class families, and i have to say as a woman and as a mother, i am really angry that women's health care is even up for debate right now. middle-class families in this country are struggling. when i go home to my home state of washington, i hear about people who are worried about getting a pink slip or how they're going to put food on the table, whether their job is going to be there for them and if we are making sure our economy is working for them and their children. that's what i hear about. i do not hear about when are you going to slash health care for women, not once. mr. president, we have seen a smoke screen and that's why we're here. last week, under the continuing resolution that was being negotiated between the house and the senate and the white house, one remaining open item --
1:17 pm
eliminating title 10 funding for women's health care. it wasn't about budget deficits. it wasn't about the debt. it wasn't about jobs or the economy. it was about an ideological driven attack on women's health care. we were able to keep that out of the continuing resolution that we will vote on tomorrow, but the price tag that the republicans in the house gave us to get to a vote to keep government open and to move our country forward is two votes: one that defunds planned parenthood and one that defends health care. both of those are extreme attacks on women's health care. my colleagues have spoken eloquently about planned parenthood. this is not about abortion. federal funds cannot go to abortions. we're, frankly, tired of having to correct the untruths that continually come out about this funding, but we're not going to give up and we're going to keep fighting and we're going to keep
1:18 pm
correcting them. planned parenthood is about providing federal funds for care like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings and prenatal care and family support and counseling. mr. president, this is about preventative health care services for women, and we take it as a direct attack on every woman in this country and her ability to get the health care that she needs. and the second vote is an attack to dismantle health care. well, let's remind all of us why health care finally became an issue that we were strong enough to deal with in this country. i'll tell you why. because women finally said we've had enough. let's face it, women are the ones who take their kids to the doctor, they're the ones who see the bills coming in, and they're the ones who fight insurance companies on a daily basis, and they have said we've had enough. so we went through a long process here to make sure that we passed health care in a way that protected women. it was women who were denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions time and time again.
1:19 pm
we said no more. now they want to vote tomorrow to put that back into effect. we heard from women who were denied coverage for health care because they were a victim of domestic violence. we said no more, and now they attack that again. mr. president, there are so many reasons why this is the wrong approach, but i will let all of our colleagues know we're going to defeat these amendments tomorrow and we're going to move on, but the democratic women of the senate are now vigilant and we are here and we are not going to allow the 2012 budget or further discussions as we go along be a smoke screen to cover up a real agenda which is to take away the access for health care and the basic rights that women have worked long and hard and fought for in this country. so thank you, mr. president, and i want you to know you'll be hearing more from us, but we're not going away. we're going to defeat these amendments tomorrow and we are here to fight them until they stop being offered. thank you, mr. president.
1:20 pm
i yield the floor to my colleague from michigan. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. it's my great pleasure and honor to be here with my friends and colleagues who have all fought so long and hard to make sure that women's voices and experiences are represented in the decisions that we make here in the united states senate and in washington on behalf of all the families that we represent. i have to say that people in michigan, my family, friends, everybody across michigan is shaking their head right now trying to figure out what the heck is going on. all of this really is a diversion from what we want to be talking about and doing something about, and that's jobs, putting people back to work, making sure people have money in their pocket to be able to pay their bills and that they can tackle their house that may very well be under water right now, and how they're going to pay for gas prices go through
1:21 pm
the roof and how they're going to be able to take care of their kids and make sure that they can have the opportunities to go to college that they want for them, all the things that we all want for our families, that's what families want us to be talking about right now. and i also have to say that the people in my state are finding that the dollars that they earn right now are hard to come by. these dollars are precious, and we need to be holding every program accountable. we need to get results for every dollar they send and make decisions. if something doesn't work, we need to stop doing it and we need to focus on things that do, and we know that that whole deficit discussion is very critical for us and that we need to be smart about the way we do things. that's really not what this debate is about at the moment, certainly not on women's health care, but we understand that we need to be serious about this, and certainly in my role as
1:22 pm
chairing the agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee, we take that very seriously and we'll be doing that in the context of our responsibilities moving forward. but i also know, and the people in michigan understand more than i think anybody else across the country, that we'll never get out of debt with more than 15 million people out of work, which is why we want to focus on jobs. they also know that women of all ages, seniors, middle-class families, didn't cause the deficit hole that we're in. and they should not be responsible for the sacrifice and burdens on their backs only in order to move us out of deficit, and we certainly are not going to allow a thinly veiled threat to women in general to become part of a
1:23 pm
debate about health -- about how we balance the budget and eliminate the deficit, which is a very real issue. the fact of the matter is in order to get the budget completed for this year, women, women's health care, was held hostage. now, we were able to separate that because the women came together in the senate and said there's no way that we are going to allow this whole debate to become some political debate about whether or not women should get breast cancer screenings or cervical cancer screenings or blood pressure checks. and so we have separated that now from the agreement for the rest of the year, and i'm proud to have stood with women from all over this country to say no, we're not going to let you play politics with the women of this country in our health care. but now we have in front of us two different votes. this was the price we had to
1:24 pm
pay, and we're willing to stand here and make the case for why it's -- why people need to vote no, but it's also deeply concerning that we have to be in a situation to debate whether or not women should get breast cancer screenings and cervical cancer screenings and whether or not we should have access to health care as a part of the price to be able to come together on a budget agreement, and that's exactly where we are. you know, in 2009, we had women from all over michigan, we have the majority of the funds for what's called title ix for preventative care goes to health departments, by the way. i helped to be able to support when i was a county commissioner years ago the ingham county health department, setting up their preventative care center for women, health care
1:25 pm
screenings for women and all across michigan, 70% of the funds under something called title 10 go to health departments. there is a small amount of that that goes to planned parenthood, and that's been very, very politicized now because of the other side's wish to politicize women's health care. but in 2009, those centers provided 55,000 cancer screenings, and we had almost 4,000 women -- 3,800 women -- who got back an abnormal result on a cancer screening. because they had a chance to get that screening, they then had the opportunity to do something about it, and lives were saved. moms are alive today to be able to care for their children and watch them grow up because they found out they had breast cancer early.
1:26 pm
grandmas are alive and well today to be able to play with their grandkids and their great grandkids because they found out early they had breast cancer or cervical cancer or some other health care challenge. i think we ought to celebrate that as the best of who we are in our values in this country. the other piece that we have in front of us will be to defund health care in general, and we know, first of all, that women are health care consumers. usually in families making decisions about health insurance, if you are able to have health insurance or how to purchase it or what will be covered and certainly caring about our families, and we usually are the last ones to take care of ourselves, and i certainly can speak to that myself as maybe other colleagues can that we tend to make the decisions first for our
1:27 pm
children, our families and not take care of ourselves as we should. but we made a very strong statement and i think a value statement in health care reform to say that we want to make sure that women have access to health care and that they can afford to get it and that they're not penalized, we're not penalized as women, and that we're not going to have to pay more. right now, a priority of health care reform, any woman purchasing health insurance on her own was paying more, sometimes up to 50% more or more for the same health insurance as a man or even less health insurance because she was a woman, because she may be of child-bearing years, because of whatever the reason women have traditionally paid more for insurance, that's no longer the case. now for the same coverage, the same medical circumstances,
1:28 pm
women cannot be discriminated against. that's a good thing. i think that's something we should be proud of that we have been able to do to make sure insurance companies cannot charge women more just because they're women. we've also made clear that preventative care is an essential part of basic health care, and i will always remember the debate that i had as a member of the finance committee with a colleague on the other side of the aisle over whether or not maternity care is a basic part of health insurance and health care. of course, i think it's hard for people in michigan to understand why we would even have to have that debate, because prenatal care, maternity care certainly is a basic, not just for the woman involved but for the baby, for the family, but we stood together and we said we're going to make sure that maternity care is part of the definition of basic health care. so there were a number of things that we did together, the women of the senate, to make sure that
1:29 pm
over half the population, the women of this country, have access to quality, affordable health care for themselves so they can continue to care for their families and be a very important part of who we are in contributing to america. we're here because tomorrow the question will be should women's preventative health care services be allowed to continue as part of our framework in terms of health care funding, both broadly in health care reform and narrowly under title 10 and family planning for the country. we will say no to the efforts to defund women's health care. i hope going forward, as we tackle huge issues for the country around bringing down the debt and balancing the budget and growing the economy and
1:30 pm
creating jobs and looking to the future that we will not see once again something as important as women's health care put on the chopping block as part of the debate. that's really the message that all of us have and the message that we will be sending tomorrow , that women across the country need to know that they are valued, that we want them to be healthy, we want them to be able to afford to find health insurance, we want them to be able to get those cancer screenings, and that we value their lives and that we don't believe folks should continue to play politics with their health care. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. and i want to thank senators murray and mikulski, for gathering us here today and all of my colleagues who are here.
1:31 pm
i'm proud to be able to join them. tomorrow we're expected to be voting on house proposals to defund planned parenthood and the affordable care act. these resolutions have been offered not because anyone argues that they create jobs or improve health care, but because house republicans were willing to shut down the federal government if they did not receive a vote on planned parenthood and health care. so that's right. even though shutting down the government would have meant furloughing 800,000 people, including members of the military, they were willing to shut down the government. this kind of a threat, especially in a recession, is irresponsible. planned parenthood is a a a critical provider of -- is a critical provider of women's health care especially to low-income individuals.
1:32 pm
1.4 million medicaid patients around the country, mostly women, but not all women, depend on planned parenthood as their main source of primary and preventive health care. they depend on planned parenthood for contraceptives, for screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and for screenings for breast and cervical cancer. in some parts of my home state of new hampshire, planned parenthood is the only provider of preventive services for low-income women. it serves almost 16,000 patients annually. in a time of economic hardship we should not be taking steps to reduce access to health care. and let's be clear, this vote has nothing to do with abortion. by law planned parenthood cannot -- that is cannot use federal funds for abortions.
1:33 pm
moreover planned parenthood provides family planning services that greatly reduce the occurrence of unplanned pregnancies. it's ironic that many of the most ardent opponents of abortion are the very people who want to shut down the family planning services that prevent unplanned pregnancies. so this vote is -- also not about deficit reduction. despite what some of -- members of the senate have claimed 97% of the reproductive health services provided by planned parenthood in new hampshire and throughout most of the country are preventive care. over 90% are for preventive care. and, as we all know, preventive health care lowers health care costs and it saves lives. detecting cancer early through regular screenings greatly increases a patient's quality of
1:34 pm
life and her chances of survival. and in the long run, it's vastly cheaper for patients in the health care system and the federal government for diseases to be prevented or treated early. one of my constituents from rochester, a mother of two, told me about her oldest daughter who works for a small restaurant. her daughter can't afford health insurance and it's not provided through where she works. so for her regular checkups and preventive care, she relies on planned parenthood. now, because of a history of cervical cancer in her family, her daughter was regularly screened. and it was planned parenthood that first diagnosed her daughter with cervical cancer. and because of that early diagnosis her daughter was able to obtain successful lifesaving treatment. there are countless stories like this. we heard some of them on the
1:35 pm
floor this afternoon. mr. president, i also want to address the other house proposal that we've been talking about this afternoon. it's a proposal that would also hurt women's health care, and that's the pending resolution to deny funding for health care reform. already the affordable care act is working for women across the country. as of last year it's illegal for insurance companies to require women to obtain preauthorizations or referrals or access to ob/gyn care. women pay up to 48% more in premiums than men. this kind of discrimination because of the health care law will be outlawed. issuers will be banned from gender ratings to charge women
1:36 pm
and small businesses with predominately female workforces more for the same coverage. in the same year, 2014, health care reform also makes it illegal for insurers to deny health care coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. designations which have often been used to discriminate against women. many women across the country today are denied coverage for preexisting conditions such as breast or cervical cancer. having had a c-section or even just being pregnant. some women have even been denied coverage for having sought out medical care for domestic or sexual violence. it's critical that we ensure that low-income women have access to health care during these critical times and we ensure all women have rang s. to health care. so -- have access to health care. so i urge my colleagues to vote against these two provisions,
1:37 pm
these ideological attacks on women's health care. let's get back to the business of creating jobs and dealing with this country's debt and deficit. thank you very much, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington is recognized. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i join my colleagues to come to the floor this afternoon and talk about tomorrow's votes on two different amendments and to say that i'm proud to join my female senate democratic colleagues in this effort and to speak out about this important issue. to me the american people have sent us a clear message. they want us to focus on job creation, promoting innovation and putting americans back to work. today we will try to defend access to health care for women. we'll vote tomorrow whether to defund planned parenthood, an agency that serves hundreds of thousands of people in my state on important exams such as breast examination and helping to permit -- permit -- prevent
1:38 pm
infections and various things. and just a few weeks ago i talked about one of our constituents, a 22-year-old woman from seattle who was diagnosed with an abnormal growth on herrer i her cervics d parenthood and was able to get treatment. without planned parenthood she would not have been able to get that kind of treatment and her health would have been in major danger in the future. i tell her story to emphasize the importance of planned parenthood on prevention and that they -- there are centers of prevention for many, many women who have no other access to health care. so we cannot jeopardize the access to that preventive health care at a time when it is so important for us to reduce long-term costs. in fact, even in the investment area every dollar invested in family planning and publicly funded family planning clinics
1:39 pm
saves about $4.02 in medicaid related costs alone. so prevention of health care is good for us in saving dollars and it's certainly good for our individual constituents who have a lack of access to health care. that's why i'm so disappointed and the situation that we're having now where our colleagues are saying to us, you can get a budget deal, but you have to defund women's health care access to do so. the avoidance of a government shutdown has also brought on, i think, a challenge on the backs of women in the district of columbia because it included a provision denying d.c. leaders the option of using locally raised funds to provide services to low-income women. for those who argue against big government this is a contradiction because this is a real imposition on the ability of elected initials the district
1:40 pm
of columbia to decide what to do with their locally raised funds. i know because i'm in the hart building, what the mayor and others on the council had to say about this. this is an imposition on the health services of low-income women in the district of columbia and certainly has gone almost unnoticed in the 11th hour. and i think sets a precedent for a dangerous slippery slope with what we are telling local governments to do. but, mr. president, it is time for us to focus on our budget, living within our means, and getting back to work, but certainly not to try to do all of that on the backs of women. and it is not time to shut down access to women's health care. republicans in the house have decide to wage war and to say women should be a bargaining chip. well, i think the american people have sent us a clear message. they want us to get back to work and they support planned parenthood and the efforts of planned parenthood on preventive
1:41 pm
health care and health care delivery services. a recent cnn poll showed that 65% of americans polled support continued funding of planned parenthood. and i know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would like to say that these funds are used and helped in funding organizations that may be involved in doing full reproductive choice services. but i ask them to think about that issue and that logic. where will they stop? it's planned parenthood today, but are they going to stop every institution in america from receiving federal dollars? it is illegal for planned parenthood to use federal dollars for the full reproductive choice including abortion. it is illegal. you cannot use those funds. and, yet, the other side would like to say that this is an issue where they would like to stop planned parenthood today and then they'll try to stop other organizations in the
1:42 pm
future. it's time to say no to this amendment tomorrow and to say no on trying to pull back from the full health care funding bill at a time when we need to implement the reforms to keep costs down and to increase access for those who currently don't have access to health care and come back to the system with much more expensive health care needs in the future. so, mr. president, i'm very disappointed that at the 11th hour of a budget debate that is about living within our means, about how we take the limited recovery we've had and move it forward economically. instead we are saying we cannot move forward on a budget in a recovery until we take everything that we can away from women and access to women's health care. we will fight this tomorrow and i'm proud to be here with my colleagues to say we will be the last line of defense for women in america who are going about their busy lives right now, taking their kids to school,
1:43 pm
trying to yugle many things -- juggle many things at home and work and they are every day as the budget people within their own homes trying to figure out how to live within their means and the national budget debate has broken to this point? we can only have a budget agreement if you defund women's full access to health care. that is wrong, mr. president, and we will be here tomorrow to fight this battle and speak up for women. i just want to point out to my colleague, who is here on the floor from new york, that i remember in 1993, in the year of the woman, when so many women got elected to congress, was the first time in the house of representatives we had a woman on every single committee. and the end result of that is we had an increase in funding for women's health research. so much of the research had been up to this point focused on men. why? because there wasn't anybody on the committee to speak up about how women had uniquely different health care needs and deserved
1:44 pm
to have a bigger share of funding for health care needs of women than were currently being funded. that's what you get when you get representation and the women senators will be here tomorrow to fight, to say that women serve to have being a -- deserve to have access through planned parenthood and title 10 and, please, for those work moms juggling dealing with child care, dealing with their jobs and pay equity at work, dealing with all of these other issues that women deal with, that they don't have to be a pawn on the debate of the budget that there are people who believe just like the majority of americans do that we should move forward with this kind of preventive health care for women in america. i thank the president and i yield the floor. and i see my colleague from new york who has been a staunch supporter of planned parenthood and women's health care koises, and i -- choices and i thank her for that leadership.
1:45 pm
mrs. gillibrand: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york is recognized. mrs. gillibrand: i want to thank my colleague for her extraordinary remarks. it's a privilege to be here in the senate today to listen to the remarks of all the senate women, colleagues, who care so deeply about women in america and how they are literally being used as a pawn in a debate about the budget. these women have drawn a line in the sand, a line in the sand about we will not let you cross. you may not balance the budget on the backs of women, period. it's very simple. the election last november was not about a mandate for these social issues. it was about the economy. it was about how are we going to create jobs, how do we get a body of representatives to come together, work together across party lines to come up with solutions? that is what the election was about. the american people voted overwhelmingly for a vote and a discussion of issues relating to jobs. how do we create jobs?
1:46 pm
how do we create the atmosphere and the landscape so our small businesses can grow? but that's not what the house of representatives is focused on. no, they have created an entire agenda around an assault on women, women's safety nets, women's health care, protections for women and children, early childhood education, prenatal care, pap smears. you name it, this is what they are beginning to focus their attention on. millions of americans depend on reproductive services. millions of women depend on prenatal care, on early cancer screenings, breast exams, all of the types of preventative health care that families rely on. in fact, in new york, there are over 200,000 new yorkers that rely on this preventative care. for my friends and colleagues, this is a factual statement. current law already prevents federal money from paying for
1:47 pm
abortions. this has been the law of the land for over 30 years. shutting down the government to fight a political argument is not only outrageous, it is irresponsible. the price for keeping the government open is this assault on women's rights, equality, access to health care, access to preventative care. women shoulder the worst of health care costs, including outrageous discriminatory practices that we worked so hard during health care reform to fix. the national women's law center tells us that under the previous health care system, a 25-year-old woman would have to pay 45% more just to get basic health care than a male her same age. some of the most essential services required by women for their basic health were not covered by many insurance plans, like prenatal care, pap smears or mammograms or preventative screenings, including postpartum
1:48 pm
depression, domestic violence and family planning. the institutionalized discrimination in our health care system is wrong, and its attacks on women and their families. what we did in health care reform was to begin to address these issues, to make sure that the inadequacies of our current system could be addressed, safeguarding women's health and making sure that this institutional discrimination no longer exists. yesterday was equal payday. women all across america earn 78 cents for every dollar their male colleague earns who is doing the exact same job. yesterday was the day it would take women to work all last year and this year to earn exactly what that male colleague earned. well, who does that affect? it affects families. it affects every family in america that has a working mother who's bringing money home to pay for her children, for her family, for their well-being. so when we should be talking about the economy and issues about how do we have equal pay
1:49 pm
in this country, the republican house is talking about how to continue this rhetoric and assault and negative effects on women and their families and what they need to protect themselves. the votes that we're going to have tomorrow to defund planned parenthood, to repeal health care, american women, make no mistake about it, this is an attack on you. it's an attack on every preventative health service, every safety net, everything that you care about, whether it's early childhood education, whether it's pap smears, whether it's mammograms, whether it's prenatal care when you're pregnant. that is what their efforts are all about, and you should just know that you have women of the senate who will stand by you. we have drawn this line in the sand and we will not allow them to cross it. we are your voice in washington, we are your voice in congress, and we will protect you and the basic safety nets and equality that you should expect out of the u.s. government.
1:50 pm
since i am the last speaker, i will suggest an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:51 pm
1:52 pm
1:53 pm
1:54 pm
1:55 pm
1:56 pm
1:57 pm
1:58 pm
1:59 pm
2:00 pm
2:01 pm
2:02 pm
2:03 pm
2:04 pm
2:05 pm
2:06 pm
2:07 pm
2:08 pm
2:09 pm
2:10 pm
2:11 pm
2:12 pm
2:13 pm
2:14 pm
2:15 pm
2:16 pm
2:17 pm
2:18 pm
2:19 pm
2:20 pm
2:21 pm
2:22 pm
2:23 pm
2:24 pm
2:25 pm
2:26 pm
2:27 pm
2:28 pm
2:29 pm
2:30 pm
2:31 pm
smore senator mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i scuk that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, you would not know it from the weather in washington, but spring has finally arrived.
2:32 pm
even though it is cold and rainy outside, there is no mistaking the change of seasons in washington. every spring the congressional office buildings are busy with people who want to visit their representatives. i look forward to many of these visits. i look forward to seeing families who have traveled all the way from utah to see for themselves and to show their children the capitol, white house, and many of the monuments. but you really know it is spring in washington because the halls of congress are filled with people for worn purpose -- and that is to ask for more money. interest groups descend on the capital with one-track minds. they return to the same spot each year to ask for more dough. the message is always the same: their issue or program is always critical, always essential. liberals like too beat up on businesses and demand their shared sacrifice.
2:33 pm
translation: you better pony up. but the interest groups that thrive on taxpayer dollars always seem to be exempt from this required sacrifice. somehow i don't think this is what the founders had in mind when they guarantees individuals the right to petition the government. petitiones the golf for more gas somehow less inspiring than petitioning the government for redress of grievances. i appreciate the sentiment of the new member of the house of representatives who hung a banner his office that read, "if you are here to ask for money, you are in the wrong place." the fact is, washington has an enormous spend problem. washington is addicted to spending. and the first step toward recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem. i suppose that we can take some solace in the fact that few persons in a position of responsibility now deny that our deficits and debt are a problem. facts have gotten in the way.
2:34 pm
this morning "the financial times" had an above-the-fold headline that reads, "u.s. lacks credibility on debt, i.m.f. says." no kidding? our total disebt now over $14 trillion with no end in sight. the administration is now asking for the finance committee and congress to raise the debt ceiling by $2.2 trillion just to get this country through next year. the president's first two budgets were a tragedy but when the united states was staring down the barrel of a third-straight trillion dollar deficit, his fiscal year 2012 budget morphed into parity. recognizing the shellacking his party took over the issue of big spending, the white house had to talk a big game about deficit reduction. but their numbers really never added up. this is how the "washington post" described the impact of the president's budget. after next year, the deficit
2:35 pm
will begin to fall -- quote -- "settling around $600 billion a year through 2018 when it would once again begin to climb as a growing number of retirees tapped into social security and medicare." americans quickly saw what this -- this budget for what it was: business as usual, spending as usual. so today the president tried a do-over. he was going to give a really big speech. that seems to be his go-to move. and this time he was going to convince americans that he is really, really serious about deficit reduction. unfortunately, he bricked this shot as well. we are approaching a debt crisis, but the president seems willing to run the clock until the next election. this is a very dangerous game. i think we need to be clear about how precarious our nation's fiscal situation is. the fact is, we could be closer to a debt crisis than even the
2:36 pm
most pessimistic accounts. because of this administration's dramatic rampup in federal spending, americans are deep in federal debt. currently, federal debt held by the public equals a modern record of about 69% of the nation's economy known as the gross domestic product. the congressional budget office reports that current tax-and-spending law takes that figure to 76% of g.d.p. over the next ten years. to put that number in perspective, consider the following statistic: at the end of fiscal year 2008, as the george w. bush administration was finding down, the debt held by the public reached about 41%. that's less than two and a half years ago. in contrast, with the 69% of today. as bad as the 76% figure is it gets worse under the president's
2:37 pm
fiscal policies. president obama's third budget was released on valentine's day this year. if americans were expecting some love and concern from our president, they sure didn't get it. the administration's figures claim that the president's budget would raise debt held by the public to 87% of g.d.p. that's the administration's figures. i have a chart that shows the growth in the debt. national debt as a percentage of g.d.p. the current policy happens to be the red. the obama 2012 budget is the blue. as you can see, by 2021, the national debt will be 87% of our g.d.p. well, on friday, march 18, 2011, c.b.o. released its estimates of the president's budget.
2:38 pm
these estimates showed that debt held by the public would grow to 87% of g.d.p. in ten years, just like it says on there -- on the far right. that alarming figure is also on the chart. now, let me put this another way. according to the congressional budget office, if we continue current tax policy -- don't raise rates, fix the a.m.t., provide estate tax relief and provide a fix to thephysician payment system or the s.g.r. it's known at -- policies supported by clear majorities of americans by 2021 debt held by the public will reach 97% of g.d.p. now, for those watching c-span, whose jus jaws just hit the flo, the news might even be worse. as bad as these numbers are,
2:39 pm
they may be dramatically understating the conditions of our fiscal policy. this is because we face a hidden potential for even greater levels of additional federal debt. we may be in the middle of a debt bubble. the stated current level of debt may grow astronomically without any policy changes. let me say that again. if we do nothing to our current policy and continue to spend, the debt we currently hold may prove disastrous. here's what i mean by a bubble. i'll use an example that we are all too familiar with. an economic bubble can be described as significant trade volume in different products or assets with inflated values. interest rates affect everything in our economy from the monthly payments we make on a new car or home to the amount we are able to save at a local bank. interest rates during both the
2:40 pm
d.o.t. come bubble and the -- the khat.com bubble and the housing bubble were driven by policies at the federal reserve. the federal reserve lowered the funds rate from 6.25% to 1.75%. the fed further reduced the rate in 2002 and 2003 -- this is the federal funds rate -- to around 1%. these low rates had a substantial effect on the growth of mortgage lending between 2001 and 2004. the share of new mortgages with adjustable rates, which is around 20% in 2001, was more than 40% by 20 t-004. -- by 2004. adjustable-rate morts. currently, just like at the beginning of the last decade, interest rates are very low. ten-year treasury rates are currently around 3.5%. during the past two years, this administration has spent recklessly, raising the total
2:41 pm
debt from $10.6 trillion to over $14.2 trillion. we are currently spending 40 cents of every dollar on interest. paying china and others who hold our debt. but what will happen when interest rates rise? under projections from the c.b.o., ten-year treasury note rates are expected to rise from current levels to 5.3% in 2016. what happens if interest rates rise to levels seen during the 1980's or the 1990's? during the 1980's rates on three-month treasury bills and ten-month notes rose to over 1 % and 10% respectively. exactly like the housing bucialtion as a nation we're falling into a national debt bubble. we continue to spend on our
2:42 pm
national credit card while interest rates are low. just as many purchased homes with adjustable-rate mortgages, eventually the adjustment kicked in, the low-rate bubble popped and many americans found themselves facing higher mortgage payments that were unaffordable. we're exposing ourselves to more debt than we should. the cost of that decision is severely understated. that cost is laid out by c.b.o., could be astr astronomical. under president obama's 2012 current budget, the c.b.o. projects deficits for each of the next ten years, resulting in an outstanding -- in an estimated $10 trillion being added to the public debt. 10 0% increase. under the scenario where interest rate rates rise to the historic rates of the 1990's, the public debt is projected to
2:43 pm
grow 77%. under the scenario where interest rates rise to the historical average of the 1980's, the public debt would grow to $12.1 trillion, doubling in size. it is right here on this chart. you can see it. this is a chart showing the public debt over the next ten years, from 2011 to 2021. and you can see the green on the far right of each column is the 1980's interest rates. the blue in the middle of each column is the 1890 -- or 1990's interest rates. the red happen to be the current baseline estimates, which almost everybody who looks at it seriously will say are too low.
2:44 pm
if the interest rates return to levels of the 1990's, without any policy changes, the debt, as you can see, grows significantly. according to this chart, the -- if you have the 1980's interest rates, we'll hit 116% increase. if interest rates return to the 19 80 levels, boy, are we in trouble? those who argue against spending restraints are encouraging more and more spending and consumption never considering what will happen when the rates adjust. this is why it is urgent, i would say imperative that we cut spending now, that we face the piper here and cut spending now. not after the next presidential election, not next year or next month -- immediately. we cannot afford either the short or long-term effects of this dangerous spending addiction.
2:45 pm
the american taxpayers understand what washington has to do. it's time to cut the national credit card and stop this reckless spending. unfortunately, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and their liberal progressive base keep urging for more taxes. i personally don't get this. i don't think americans have been sitting at home thinking, you know, with this debate over government spending -- you know what this debate over government spending has been missing? a proposal for a giant tax increase. i don't think they're thinking that. but to borrow from bruce dickinson, democrats have a fever. and the only prescription is more taxation. when it comes to dealing with our budget deficits and our exploding debt, democrats is a one-track mind. they claim that they are serious about spending. the white house is touting reforms to medicare and medicaid to get spending under control. but obamacare is not medicare
2:46 pm
reform. and real medicare reform will entail repealing obamakaeufrplt the health care bill took $500 billion out of medicare to finance a $2.6 trillion in new government spending. and instead of taking responsibility to ensure the long-term viability of medicare, the president did what he seems to do best. he punted decision-making to a board of unelected bureaucrats. obamacare is not medicaid reform either. states are already facing a crushing collective deficit of $175 billion. but instead of helping the states to lift this burden, the president's health care bill larded on an additional $118 billion medicaid expansion on
2:47 pm
the states. that's on top of the $175 billion. that's almost $300 billion that the states will be in debt. the white house has circulated a fact sheet on the president's attempt at deficit reduction. it claims $340 billion in savings over ten years -- quote -- "an amount sufficient to fully pay the reformed medicare sustainable growth rate, s.g.r., physician payment formula while still reducing the deficit." however, the president's budget estimated because of the ten-year doc fix at $380 billion. some in congress utilize the president's proposed savings to fund a doc fix, the net deficit increase from the white house's health proposals will be at least $40 billion. with due respect, when the medicare hospital insurance trust fund which our seniors depend on is scheduled to be insolvent in nine short years,
2:48 pm
that is totally inadequate. so what are we really looking at in this vaunted deficit-reduction plan? yesterday in anticipation of the president's remarks on deficit reduction, his spokesperson gave it away when he said -- quote -- "the president believes there has to be a balanced approach." unquote. translation: you better check your wall wallet. the "wall street journal" said tax increases are on the table, but americans know that for democrats, tax increases are never off the table. most americans understand that they are the centerpiece of democrat party policy. america was waiting for the president to propose something new today. instead he dusted off his proposal to end the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for households and businesses earning over $250,000 a year. citizens wanted something
2:49 pm
innovative, maybe a little hope and change for a change. instead they got the fiscal policy of walter mondale and phaou cal due -- michael dukakis. taxpayers who use their own dollars to deduct mortgage interest, make contributions to charities, save for education or save in a pension plan will be treated the same as spending for nevada's cowboy poetry festival. to me, they are not the same. but to the president, they are. david plouffe, the president's senior advisor and former campaign manager, had this to say about the president's proposal -- quote -- "people like him who have been very fortunate in life have the ability to pay a little bit more. well, that's big of him. we hear this quote quite a bit from rich democrats. please tax us more, they say.
2:50 pm
well, i know a whrot don't say that -- a lot who don't say that. as the ranking member on the senate finance committee, i feel obligateed to tell mr. plouffe, those rich democrats can write a check to the i.r.s. and make a payment on their tax returns to pay down the federal debt. the option is right there at the bottom of their tax return. this might be a good talking point. i am sure it has polled really well. but i have yet to hear the economic or fiscal rationale on raising taxes on small businesses and families. it is certainly not deficit reduction. raising taxes may be politically necessary for democrats, but it will do little to reduce the deficits and debt that are at their root spending problems. an article from the tax policy center shows just how delusional
2:51 pm
it is to try and balance the budget through tax increases. in an article titled "desperately seeking revenue," the authors laid out what types of tax increases would be necessary absent spending changes to reduce federal deficits at 2% of g.d.p. for the 2015-2019 period. this is a remarkable article. its authors concluded tax increases consistent with the president's campaign pledge not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 or families making less than $250,000 would require the top two rates to go from 33% to 58.7% and -- to 85.7 % and 35% to 90.9%. this article makes clear yet again that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. we are not going to make meaningful deficit reduction, we are not going to get the debt under control by taxing the
2:52 pm
so-called rich. taxing citizens and businesses more is not going to fix what is essentially a spending problem. consider this chart, this one right here. projected revenues from individual income taxes 2011-2021. now the top red line, baseline -- that's the c.b.o. baseline, the current c.b.o. baseline. the middle blue line is the president's budget plans. the bottom orange line is to extend the 2001-2003 tax cuts to index the a.m.t., alternative minimum tax. you can see under the president's budget phrarpbgs under the c.b.o. baseline and under the republican position, individual income tax revenues as a percentage of g.d.p. are going up. taxes revenues are already going up, and they are not getting us where we need to be as a nation. yet, in his remarks today the
2:53 pm
president's landmark proposal is little more than tax increases. i suppose we shouldn't be surprised. when the drudge report announced yesterday that the president was going to announce tax increases, it did not even merit a flashing red light. drudge pushed it to the side because it is really no longer news to anyone that democrats want to raise taxes. the real news would have been if the president stuck to his political base and made meaningful recommendations for entitlement reform. the people of utah and taxpayers around the country would have stopped and listen if the president announced a serious rollback of domestic non-defense discretionary spending which has exploded on his waufplt instead they got the -- on his watch. instead they got the economic philosophy of president carter. maybe that statement isn't fair to president carter. i don't know. it seems like it has all the elements of fairness. ultimately this spending crisis cannot be ignored, and both
2:54 pm
voters and markets will respond to the leaders who take this issue in a serious way. one of problems with our colleagues on the other side and their wonderful desire to increase taxes on everybody is that those tax increases would not go to paying down the deficit. they would go for more spending. and that's been the case for all my 34 years here in the united states senate. every time we've raised taxes, it hasn't, over the long run, gone for bringing down the deficit. it's gone to make more spending. we wonderful members of congress, we have all kinds of ways of spending money. our father in heaven knows that we get a lot more credit for spending in this country up through the years than we do for conserving. on the other hand, i don't think there's much credit coming
2:55 pm
today. i think most everybody in america, including all those democrat millionaires who supported the president last time -- maybe not all of them but a good percent of them are saying enough's enough. mr. president, i'm hoping for the -- i'm hoping that the president will give a speech someday that really will make a difference on spending because that's clearly what the problem is. not tax revenues. it's spending. and i think we've had enough of that. i think the american people, whether you be democrat or republicans, have had enough of that. even though we wish we could do more, we wish we could have more people, wish we could provide a new car for everybody in america, i'm sure, but that isn't reality. it's time to face up to reality and to get this government's
2:56 pm
spending under control. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: . reid: mr. preside?
2:57 pm
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the period of morning business -- are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. reid: i'm so sorry. i ask consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the period of morning business for debate only be extended until 6:00 p.m. this evening with senators during that period of time be allege loud to speak for ten minutes -- be allowed to speak for ten minutes each and at 6:00 p.m. i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: we're continuing to
2:58 pm
move forward on working on an agreement for small business. we have three main -- i shouldn't say main, but i think they are the ones that we are focused on. one is an amendment offered by senator cornyn and one by senator hutchison and one by senator sanders. there are others who now have come into the fray, and it is making it very difficult to get votes on these three amendments. but that's where we are. unfortunately, i think each these -- each of these amendments are offered in good faith. we should be able to have a vote on them even though they have virtually nothing to do with the small business bill. but i'm going to continue to work to see if i can get universal agreement to get these amendments disposed of either by passing or bringing them up and move toward completion of this bill. there's no reason that we shouldn't have been able to do something in the last two days, but that's where we are.
2:59 pm
overhanging all of this, of course, is the continuing resolution which we need to work on tomorrow. if people have any feelings about that, i wish they would come to the floor and discuss it. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: without
3:00 pm
3:01 pm
3:02 pm
3:03 pm
3:04 pm
3:05 pm
3:06 pm
3:07 pm
3:08 pm
3:09 pm
3:10 pm
3:11 pm
3:12 pm
3:13 pm
3:14 pm
3:15 pm
3:16 pm
3:17 pm
3:18 pm
3:19 pm
3:20 pm
3:21 pm
3:22 pm
3:23 pm
3:24 pm
3:25 pm
3:26 pm
3:27 pm
3:28 pm
3:29 pm
3:30 pm
3:31 pm
3:32 pm
3:33 pm
3:34 pm
3:35 pm
3:36 pm
3:37 pm
3:38 pm
3:39 pm
objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i watched with great interest president obama's speech about our spending and debt crisis. that's what i would call it.
3:40 pm
he didn't use as stark terms, unfortunately, but it is a spending and debt crisis. first of all, i'm -- i'm at least a little encouraged that he is finally beginning to enter the debate about this crisis. it is headed to a crisis. it is the greatest domestic threat we face as a nation and at least this speech acknowledges that it is a huge threat and that his own budget, submitted just a few months ago, was a pass on all of those big issues and he needed a redo. this is a great threat to all of our future says and prosperity. let me try to put it just a little bit in perspective, mr. president. borrowing right now is at least 40 cents out of every dollar, so every dollar the federal government spends, 40 cents of that, over 40 cents is borrowed money.
3:41 pm
we're spending $3.7 trillion a year but we're only taking in $2.2 trillion. because of that, we've recently been racking up over $4 billion of new debt every day. so every day, new debt of $4 billion a day, and a whole lot of that we owe to the chinese, more than $1 trillion. now, that eventually has very serious consequences in terms of our prosperity, our future, the sort of country envisioned and future we -- country and vision and future we can leave for our kids. as interest rates go up, which they inevitably will if we stay on this path, that just downright costs jobs. when interest rates go up 1%, federal debt goes up $140 billion because the debt is so much. when those interest rates eventually go up, it makes it
3:42 pm
harder for all of us and our families to buy cars and homes, to pay tuition, to create jobs if we're a small business. admiral mike mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs o f staff, has said that -- quote -- "national debt is our biggest security threat." so the highest-ranking person in uniform in charge of our national security says that our biggest security threat isn't iran or north korea or anyone else, it's actually this domestic debt issue. and debt at current levels, which is 94% of g.d.p., economists say that's already costing us about a million jobs because our debt level is so great. so again, at least the president in his speech today, which is essential ly a do-over of his budget from a few months ago, at least the president is beginning
3:43 pm
to acknowledge that fundamental threat and that's good. but we need more than a speech, we need more than a vision; we need a real action plan, a detailed plan from the president and we didn't get that today. so my first reaction to the speech was that it's just that, it was a speech. it was a nice sounding speech. it had a lot of nice themes. but it was a speech. and if the president, who is so quick to criticize congressman paul ryan's budget, if he really wants to enter the debate, he needs to enter it on a par with that level of detail, that level of specifics that congressman ryan and house republicans gave. and so the president needs to submit a new budget, a new detailed proposal, not just give a speech. and then we need to engage in a real debate and come up with a
3:44 pm
plan, an action plan to tackle this spending and debt issue. and we need to do that before we vote on any debt limit increase. just speaking for myself, i'm not going to consider increasing the debt limit, which the president wants all of us to do, unless and until there's tied to it a real plan to deal with this spending and debt crisis. so this speech today perhaps was a start, but my general reaction is, we need more than a speech, we need specifics, we need a new budget submission. and then we need to engage in a bipartisan discussion and negotiation. but we shouldn't wait till may, as the president suggested. that should start immediately, tomorrow because we need to hammer out meaningful details before any proposal comes to the floor for votes to increase the debt limit.
3:45 pm
now, in terms of the general themes the president struck, i have to say i was disappointed because to my ears it was same old, same old. the first thing was increasing taxes, and he's been at that theme over and over again and that was absolutely the first theme he hit in his speech, increasing taxes. the problem, -- the problem is, mr. president, when you look the level of taxation we have, that is not extraordinarily low. that is not somehow way below normal historical averages. what is way above normal historical averages is spending. and so if you just look at the data compared to history, we have a runaway spending problem. we don't have a taxation problem. the second big theme the president hit was cutting defense spending. again, coming from a liberal, this is just same ol', same ol'.
3:46 pm
a traditional predictable theme to cut defense. i don't think that's really a new approach or a new discussion from the president. third big theme was to cut tax expenditures. now, a lot of folks at least in louisiana won't know what the heck that means. so let me translate. cutting tax expenditures means increasing taxes. it means doing away with certain deductions and certain credits. it means your tax bill goes up. now, i'm all for tax code simplification. i think we need an enormously simplified tax code. i do think we need to get rid of a lost deductions and credits. but that should be used to lower the overall rate, particularly rates like the corporate tax rate, which in the u.s. is highest of any industrialized country in the world.
3:47 pm
and then in terms of the theme of real cutting, that theme was very short on specifics, very long on general statements, including that entitlements and things like medicare would not be cut or reformed in any way. so when you look at these broad themes -- and that's all there was, broad themes, not specifics -- it was, quite frankly, disappointing, sorely disappointing. but at least perhaps it's a start. as i said at the beginning of my remarks, i hope it's a meaningful start. but to be a meaningful start and to produce fruit, we need to go from a very broad, very general speech to a detailed submission. the president needs to resubmit his entire budget. that is do-over. so he needs to resubmit a detailed budget which matches
3:48 pm
congressman ryan's proposal in the level of detail, in the level of specifics the budget chairman in the house has provided. and then we need to immediately get to a bipartisan discussion and negotiation. shouldn't wait until may. that should start immediately for one simple reason: because i don't think there's any chance of passing any increase to the debt limit without having attached to it major reform, major structural reform that ensures that we are upon a new path of lowering spending and lowering debt. of course i can only control one vote. but speaking for myself, i will say that i won't even consider those proposals to increase the debt limit unless and until there's a proposal that passes the congress to actually decrease the debt. ultimately, the problem isn't the debt limit, the problem is
3:49 pm
the debt. you know, when an individual has a spending problem or a credit card problem, the solution isn't getting a higher limit on his credit card; the solution is to deal with the spending and the debt problem, which is the underlying core problem. the same here. and so we need to do that as we move in this debt-limit discussion. i hope we'll all do that, mr. president. i hope we'll come together in a meaningful bipartisan way to do that. actually attack the problem, which is spending, which leigh leads to the second problem, which is debt -- which leads to the second problem, which is debt. and to proposal and pass reform, real structural reform before we have any vote on increasing the debt limit. i urge all of us to work construct nifl that regard. i hope the president's speech is a start toward that, but of
3:50 pm
course time will tell and actions versus words are what ultimately matter. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the from montana. mr. baucus: i ask unanimous consent that the following staff be allowed on the senate floor duration of the debate on srz 493. lucy emerson andijan none obe oberdean. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, today more than 47 million americans rely on medicare for their health care. for more than 45 years seniors have had access to affordable, dependable health care that medicare provides. we all recognize the cost of health care. we know it's growing and growing too rapidly. the landmark health real estate form law that we passed recently took broad steps t to rein in costs and i'm willing to work to
3:51 pm
root out fraud and waste. last week the chairman of the house budget committee, congressman paul ryan, proposed a play that would end medicare as we know t rather than providing affordable health care paid for by medicare, as is the case today, under the ryan plan seniors would receive a voucher to purchase private het insuranc--health insurance. not get benefits provided under medicare but, rather, receive a voucher to purchase private health insurance from private health insurance companies. unfortunately, this voucher would fall far short of covering health care costs for seniors. according to the independent congressional budget office, under the ryan plan -- quote -- "most elderly people would pay more." i might arksd "much more for the health care's athan they do
3:52 pm
under the current health care s how much more? c.b.o. says under the ryan plan, the average 65-year-old would have to pay $12,000 a year to receive the same level of benefits medicare offers today. $12,000 a year. that is more than double what a senior would have to pay under today's medicare. so the ryan plan would double the payment seniors have to make and the benefits would be reduced. under the ryan plan, there would be no guaranteed benefits that are protected under medicare today. as a result, private insurance companies would dictate what care a senior received, ending current doctor-patient relationship. our deficit of course is serious. it's very serious. it must be addressed. we need to look for more ways to reduce our deficit. we need to do so in a balanced and fair way. for starters we shouldn't balance the budget on the backs
3:53 pm
of seniors. we will not allow medicare to be dismantled. not on our watch. yesterday senator bill nelson and i introduced a sense of the senate resolution stating that "medicare should not be dismantled and turned into a voucher program." deficit reduction should not simply shift costs to seniors. that is exactly what the vouchers in the ryan budget would dovment a voucher system does nothing to lower health care costs. it does not guarantee the benefits medicare offers today. and it does not provide access to affordable health care. seniors deserve much better. mr. president. i listened closely to my colleague from louisiana a few minutes ago, and frankly i'm -- i'm somewhat heartened. i heard from him that he wants to move forward, that he would, he said indirectly, vote to increase the debt limit, if there is a credible plan to
3:54 pm
reduce deficits and our national debt. i think that is a proposal that the vast majority of the members of this body agree with. of course, the proof is in the pudding. it's what is that credible plan, what is that mechanism, what is that assurance that we are going to reduce the budget deficit des prior to voting to increase the debt limit? it's very important that that vote to increase the debt limit occur without brinksmanship. we had far too much brinksmanship in the lead-up to the continuing resolution. the vote to increase the debt limit is a far, far more important vote. the stakes are much, much, much higher. the dollar amount is much greater. the financial markets will be watching very closely. and we, members of the congress, working with the president, must
3:55 pm
find a way to get the debt limit increased but with assurance that we're going to get the deficits down and the debt down in a credible way, in a proper period of time, so we don't have to push up that to final moment -- the final minute of when the vote on the debt limit occurs. i sense that my colleague from louisiana wants to find some way -- i think we all do. that's our challenge, mr. president. that's our charge. over the next couple of months, find that way, find that mechanism, find that process that's credible, that makes sense, that both sides can buy into it, not knowing exactly what the final result will be but knowing that we're starting down a road to get the budget deficit under control in a balanced, fair way. i do not mean to sound critical. i don't think the ryan budget proposal is balanced. i don't think it is fair. but i do think members of the
3:56 pm
senate, a vast majority, do want to find a fair, balanced solution and it is up to us to try to find that before that vote on the debt limit occurs. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: ohio.
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
4:01 pm
4:02 pm
4:03 pm
4:04 pm
4:05 pm
4:06 pm
4:07 pm
4:08 pm
a senator: madam president, i ask unanimous consent for the quorum call to be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: thank you, madam president. this afternoon, after a few days of great anticipation, the president laid out his vision for long-term deficit reduction and dealing with our long-term debt. and now that we've heard from him, i'm afraid we're left with more questions than answers. let me be clear, i welcome the president to the debate. i think it's a positive sign. there's no more pressing issue for us to address than our dire fiscal situation and our economic challenges. and both of them are intertwined and closely linked. we're not going to be able to improve the economy until we deal with our impending debt crisis and we can't deal with our fiscal crisis without having a growing economy. there's been a lot of good discussion particularly over the past month or so over the unique dangers we face as a country if we don't address our massive
4:09 pm
deficits and our debt which has accumulated to $14 trillion. that is equal to the entire size of the united states economy, making this the first time since world war ii that we've had a debt at that level. but it's a lot different twhapbs during world war ii. then our debt was primarily tkweufrpb by defense spending which could be quickly curtailed. we weren't looking at the incredible unfunded obligation that is we have today. medicare, medicaid and social security combined is an unfunded obligation of over $100 trillion. so we're in uncharted territory, unprecedented times, and it's harming our economy today and of course will devastate our economy in the future if we don't take action. economists tell us that countries with a debt of 90% of their economy -- 90% of g.d.p. -- typically lose one point of economic growth. again this year our gross debt is 100% of our g.d.p.
4:10 pm
by the way, a 1% reduction in our g.d.p. in america means about one million jobs. so already with a gross debt of 100% of g.d.p., we've foregone jobs we desperately need in ohio, my home state, and around the country. this high indebtedness also comes with very significant interest payments of course. even with interest rates being so low today, near zero, the magnitude of the u.s. debt still requires a debt service this year of over $200 billion. and, by the way, under the president's budget, that number increases to almost $1 trillion ten years from now based on the congressional budget office analysis. $1 trillion a year just in interest payments on the debt. what concerns me is that interest rates could well go up given this climate. one percent increase in interest
4:11 pm
revolves -- involves another $130 billion of interest payments. think about that. just a 1% increase in interest rates means another $130 billion in interest payments. obviously inflation would be causing additional damage to an already precarious budget situation, and that's another great risk that we face. our current deficits are also increasingly financed by foreign holders of u.s. debt. at present nearly half of the u.s. publicly held debt is held by foreign investors. and as those u.s. deficits are increasingly foreign financed, of course our interest payments are leaving the country. it is estimated that in 2010, interest payments to foreign entities and foreign individuals amounted to over $140 billion. that's based on the new data from the department of commerce. so it's not just about these high debt payments. it's the fact that a lot of it's going overseas. and persistent deficits and this
4:12 pm
pending debt crisis of course also introduces a lot of uncertainty into our economy. immediate evidence this have effect -- of this effect appears on the balance sheets of american businesses which shows $1.9 trillion in what's called liquid holdings. what does this mean? money is sitting on the sidelines rather than being invested in jobs, plant and equipment. resolving the uncertainty surrounding future deficits will induce greater investments. we've already seen these concerns manifest themselves in various ways. capital markets are responding. investors such as pimco, the largest holder of u.s. treasuries, is out altogether telling us they no longer trust u.s. debt. what will happen is more daunting. according to the congressional budget office, assuming the continuation of current policy, debt held by the public as a share of our economy is projected to reach an implausibly high 947% by the
4:13 pm
year 2084. of course that won't happen. the u.s. would face a debt crisis long before that. but it merely illustrates the unsustainability of the current fiscal situation. no economic model can tell us what the economy would look like into the future because by then those models essentially fall apart. over time the accumulation of debt increases, the cost of debt service consuming of course a greater share of revenues, limiting resources for other priorities and unseen emergencies such as a natural disaster or war. as time progresses, the fiscal crisis result tpr-g high indebtedness could occur rapidly as investors lose confidence in u.s. treasuries. absent policy changes that are meaningful and immediate, the u.s. is going to have to pay higher yields on its own debt to roll over existing debt and avoid default. we're going to have to pay higher interest rates to attract investors to our country. in addition to largely wasted
4:14 pm
interest debt to the country, higher interest rates would be devastating for american families. as interest rates go up because treasury rates go up, this means home mortgages go up. this means college loan payments go up. this means interest rates on car loans go up. credit card activity and other loans. the economy's tough enough. we don't need these higher interest rates and yet that's what's upon us unless we act and act now. the magnitude of the situation would escalate. it would grind the economy tpo a halt as investors lose confidence in the ability to repay. we just went through a tough recession, we don't need to relive that. all things being equal, debt financing of current supreme court justice imposes -- to
4:15 pm
avoid a debt crisis, any policy changes must begin sooner rather than later to minimize those effects that unfortunately are likely to happen even if we act. given the threats and crisis just described, there's no doubt that america's in need of real leadership to address this fiscal threat. while we can debate some of the specifics in congressman ryan's budget, there is no doubt that the house republican plan demonstrates necessary leadership on the severe fiscal challenges our country faces. this is in contrast to the plan that president obama sent to the congress just two months ago. it not only rejects the serious recommendation from his own fiscal commission, but, unfortunately, as eskin bowles, the democratic co-chair of the president's commission said and i quote -- "it goes nowhere near where we have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare." unfortunately the president's speech today provides no specifics as how to resolve that
4:16 pm
fiscal nightmare. more spending, more borrowing, more taxes is not a prescription for spending constraint and economic growth. since president obama took office we've seen trillions in new spending and record deficits. the february budget i talked about just locks that new spending in place doing nothing to pull back from this dangerous spiral of debt. let's be clear this is not just a budget issue, it is an economic issue and it's definitely a jobs issue. not only will debt and deficit have a long-term impact on our children and grandchildren, we'll have to foot the bill for today's spending. where we're beginning to see this economic impact as -- we've got to move quickly to substantially reduce the debt and deficit, strengthen our fiscal house and in doing so foster job creation in states like mine, ohio, and around the country. the commission's plan that the president rejected in december
4:17 pm
cuts deficits by abou about $4.1 trillion compared to the baseline of current policy over a 10-year period. it brings our deficits to 1.2% of our economy by 2020 compared to today we're at almost 010% -- 10% of our economy. it sets a standard over $4 trillion in reductions in the deficit and an annual deficit that is 1.2%, which, incidentally, is where our budget deficit was about four years ago. congressman ryan's budget got there by bringing deficits down by about dz 4-dz .2 trillion by -- $4.2 trillion by 2021, t to $4.01, $4.2 trillion. and the deficit is about 1.5% of g.d.p. the president's own budget two months ago submitted here to congress is very different. his budget barely gets a quarter of the way there, $1.1 trillion
4:18 pm
and that's if all the savings occur and that there is a higher rate of economic growth than the congressional budget office thinks there will be which actually wipes out the deficit the savings that the president claims. so we have very different visions, don't we? we have the fiscal commission on the one hand and the ryan budget in the $4 trillion range and the plan by the president that does not get us moving forward in terms of deficit reduction, in fact, doubles the debt in the next 10 years. evidently after seeing republicans move forward last week and now this week in the house, and after seeing how on a bipartisan basis and around the country people reacted to his budget, president obama has realized that he needs to move forward with a new proposal. in a sense he's asking for a mulligan and i think that's good. i think it's good that he's acknowledged that this problem is deeper and more serious than his budget proposal indicated and we need to move forward together. unfortunately, again, the
4:19 pm
president did not offer specifics today unlike the ryan budget that takes some bold and courageous steps. tough steps, but does offer specifics. the president instead squandered this opportunity which are to offer a way forward on tackling our fiscal problems. he did talk about $4 trillion in deficit reduction and i appreciate that. but, again, did not offer way to get there. the national commission that he formed and that reported in december told the president that there was a way to get there. and i hope that the president will relook at his own commission and at other proposals like the ryan proposal. as the president made clear we've been debating just 12% of the budget. he's right about that. there's some defense spending that's involved, but for the most part it's a very small part of the budget. so what does this do to address these additional challenges? i didn't hear anything that were serious proposals to address, the entitlement programs which
4:20 pm
are important but on an unsustainable footing. to a government board unelected and unaccountable. on medicaid the president seems to be delegating responsibility to the national governors association. on social security the president told us today it doesn't contribute to our deficit despite the fact that the program is in cash deficit this year by $45 billion - by $45 billion -- $45 billion of payroll taxes less than the payments going out. the president proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction and yet has shrunk from the responsibility of telling us how he would achieve it except that he would leave it to others and pursue tax increases which i fear will harm the little recovery we see coming out of this deep recession. so i look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle and the president to address the serious challenges we talked about today. i wish we'd seen more specifics
4:21 pm
today but i'm encouraged that the president is engage nght game, welcoming his involvement because it's too important for us not to have involvement from both sides of the aisle and without white house leadership we cannot move forward. mr. president, as you say so often, let's get focused not on the next election, but on the next generation. thank you, madam president. mr. harkin: mr. president? -- madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask that megan cheney be granted floor privileges for the remainder of today's session much. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president, the senate will have before it today
4:22 pm
or tomorrow, depending upon the flow around here, two very misguided bills. this will come about on our -- when we have our budget come up for a vote here under an agreement to get that budget up, we're going to have a vote on two separate bills. one bill would totally repeal and defund the -- the affordable care act, the health reform bill that we passed. the other one would prevent funding for planned parenthood. so i want to take a few minutes here on the floor of the senate to speak about how misguided these two bills are. first, let me talk about the bill that would defund the affordable care act. this bill that we would be voting on will prohibit any funds appropriated this year and any funds appropriated in any prior year from being used to
4:23 pm
carry out the affordable care act. this would remove the engine from health care reform when the train is steaming down the track. so, again, why are we voting on this? the reason is that republicans have tried a frontal assault on the affordable care act, a debate on the merits, and they failed. this body voted down senator mcconnell's amendment to the f.a.a. authorization bill that would have repealed health reform in its entirety. i guess what you can't do directly you try to do indirectly. so now the republicans are trying to undermine health reform by other means so it's just defunding it. well, this strategy only makes sense if you're absolutely obsessed -- obsessed with tearing down health reform. make no mistake about it this bill is the equivalent of
4:24 pm
repeal. by depriving the bill of all funding it would turn back the clock on all that we have accomplished over the past year. it would take us back to the bad old days when insurance companies were in the driver's seat telling what you kind of health care you're entitled to and when you're entitled to it. instead of protecting all americans against arbitrary limits on coverage repeals would take us back to the days when insurance companies could turn off your coverage just when you're the sickest. that would hurt families like the grassoffs from texas who testified before my committee earlier this year. they were unable to find coverage that would pay for their son's heap heapo hemophila treatment. repeal would make them fend for themselves in a chaotic market that offers too little coverage for too much money.
4:25 pm
that would hurt folks like emily shlitin, who suffers from a rare auto immune disorder that would make her uninsurable in the bad old days. because of the affordable care act, she's able to stay on her parents' policy until she's 26. again, in a "help" committee hearing in january this is emily, a wonderful young woman. she said young people are the future of this country and we are the most affected by the reform. we're the generation that is most uninsured. we need the affordable care act because it is literally an investment in the future of this country. it would hurt folks like carole in anthony, iowa, whose 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type i diabetes four years ago. thanks to the affordable care act carole doesn't have to worry about her daughter's preexisting condition disqualifying her from
4:26 pm
coverage and she can stay on her parents' health insurance coverage after college. carole also doesn't have to worry about the cost of her tawr's care running up a lifetime cap that would be imposed by an insurance company. health reform banned those limits. carole wrote me a nice letter saying thank you. on behalf of those americans who have preexisting condition conditions like heart disease or diabetes, from denial of coverage, repeal would put insurance companies back in the driver's seat picking and choosing who to cover. instead of helping small businesses struggling in this recession with the cost of insurance premiums, repeal of the affordable care act would take away $40 billion in tax credits that reduced premiums for small businesses. instead of helping all americans prevent illness or disease by providing free preventive
4:27 pm
services like mammograms an colonoscopies, repeal would allow insurers to charge expensive co-pays for these important services, thus discouraging people from getting colonoscopies or mammogram screenings. if we pass this bill, this bill to defund the affordable care act, congress will turn its back on america's seniors after hard-won improvements in medicare benefits and damaging the program's fiscal health. it would open the medicare part-d doughnut hole exposing seniors to the full cost of drugs when they need the most assistance. repealing the affordable care act would increase seniors's drug prices on average by more than $800 this year and $3,500 over the next 10 years. it would roll back the unprecedented investment the affordable care act makes in
4:28 pm
medicare fraud prevention turning back the affordable care act would hurt seniors's access to rural areas by eliminating incentive participates in the affordable care act paid to rural primary care providers. repealing or defunding, as this bill would do, defunding the affordable care act, would roll back improvements to medicare payment policy, coordination an efficiency that extend the life of medicare trust fund by over a decade. in addition, madam president, secretary sebelius informed us that payment to medicare providers would be interrupted by this bill which, again, will defund the affordable care act. finally, we've come foort of this debate that even -- to the part of this debate that alice in wonderland would have a tough time understanding. the washington stage has played this over the last few weeks
4:29 pm
making great solemn speeches to the balconies and the audiences about the deficit and the debt. but as a condition for agreeing to fund the government for the remainder of this year, what are they demanding? they want to defund and thus repeal the affordable care act, one of the best and biggest deficit redu reducing measures n decades. it reduces more than a trillion. here's a chart that shows that. in the next 10 years, according to the congressional budget office, the affordable care act will reduce the deficit b by $210 billion. therefore, if you repeal it, you would increase the difficult by $210 billion.
4:30 pm
here's where the real savings comes. the congressional budget office says that the affordable care act will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion. so if you defund it, as this bill would do, you will increase the deaf si by $1 -- deficit by $1 trillion. that's what the republicans want. they want to absolutely increase the deficit. they must because they want to do away with the affordable care act. so let me get this straight. the republicans are proposing to reduce the deficit by increasing the deficits. as i said, somehow i have a feeling when i hear that we're not in kansas any longer. this is alice in wonderland kind of thinking. so, madam president, we have to stop the silly games. this debate, this debate isn't about deficit reduction. it's about tearing down health
4:31 pm
reform, no matter what, no matter if it does increase the deficit, get rid of it, get rid of health care reform. it's about giving control back to wealthy, powerful health insurance companies who can raise your rates, deny you benefits and make increasingly more profits. nothing makes the nature of the agenda of my friends on the republican side more clear than the 2012 proposed budget released by the republican house budget committee chairman last week. the republican budget plan is very simply a massive transfer of wealth. a massive transfer of wealth from low and middle-income americans to the wealthiest in our country. two-thirds, two-thirds of the budget savings in the republican
4:32 pm
budget proposal come from drastically cutting programs that serve those with modest means, while permanently extending president bush's tax cuts for the rich. and how is this massive wealth shift paid for? well, they would repeal the majority of the affordable care act, taking coverage away for more than 32 million americans who would be covered under current law. starting in 2022, the republican budget proposal eliminates medicare as we know it, turning over the program to private health insurance companies. instead of enrolling seniors in medicare, the republicans' plan would give them a voucher to go out and buy private insurance coverage on the open market. and since the voucher would not keep up with rising medical costs, seniors would equal further and further behind.
4:33 pm
the congressional budget office has said that this would more than double, more than double out-of-pocket costs for seniors entering the program in 2022, would triple the costs by 2030. and where would that money go? to the private health insurance industry. well, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? the republicans' obsession, obsession with repealing the new health reform law is not based on budgetary considerations. it's based strictly on ideology. in 1965, president johnson and this congress passed medicare, ensuring seniors' access to decent health care. republicans fought it bitterly then. 45 years later, they're still trying to undo it, and here they go again. so the choice before us is to go
4:34 pm
forward or to be dragged backward. let us come together as a united american people, create a reformed health care system that works not just for the healthy and the wealthy, but for all americans. madam president, there's a second bill that we will be voting on in conjunction with the budget. the republicans insisted on this in order to have a vote on the budget. it is as equally misguided and as dangerous, i think, as the other bill. this second bill would prohibit, prohibit a law-abiding and extraordinarily successful organization from participating in fair competition for federal funding. this entity would, of course, be planned parenthood. now, again, let's be clear what
4:35 pm
this bill is not about. it's not about the need to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. long-standing rules under the title 10 program already strictly prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. what's more, every appropriations bill for the last two decades has stated that no funds can be used for any abortion. well, madam president, this bill is not about abortion. it is about banning, banning a specific organization from even competing for federal funds simply because some people don't agree with that organization. this would create a very disturbing and dangerous precedent. when congress creates a program, it typically specifies rules or criteria for participation in that program.
4:36 pm
anyone who -- or any organization who agrees to play by these rules and criteria is eligible to compete. planned parenthood is playing by the rules. that's one reason it is one of the most widely respected health care providers in the united states. of 5.2 million served every year, every year by the title 10 program, one out of three, 31%, receive care at planned parenthood health centers. now, if someone can show me a specific clinic that isn't following the rules, by all means, take away their funding. that's not what this bill does. this bill says that planned parenthood as an entity would be banned from even competing to provide services under title 10,
4:37 pm
despite the fact that they conform to all of the rules of the program. and it doesn't only just ban planned parenthood from offering family planning services. that's one aspect of what planned parenthood does. but this bill would turn away nearly one million women a year who receive cervical cancer screenings through planned parenthood clinical services, as well as 830,000 women every year who get breast exams at planned parenthood clinical services. it would turn away countless hundreds of thousands of women and men who receive physical exams and immunizations at planned parenthood clinical services. madam president, my office has been deluged by emails and phone calls from iowans and other
4:38 pm
americans who oppose this misguided effort to ban planned parenthood from receiving funding under title 10. i stand with them in support of the important services these clinics provide to women and men throughout the country. a constituent of mine writes -- "dear senator harkin, i wanted to let you know that cutting funds to planned parenthood will jeopardize the lives of many women and some of the men who go there for basic reproductive health screenings. i say this with confidence as planned parenthood was the only clinic i could afford ten years ago to obtain yearly pap smears. it was planned parenthood that found my cervical cancer and referred me to a specialist for treatment. due to the existence and actions of planned parenthood, i am alive today as a healthy and contributing member of society. i work with undergraduate and
4:39 pm
graduate students, and several of them have mentioned that planned parenthood was their only option for affordable screenings. please ensure that government funding will be allocated to planned parenthood. please do not have young or socioeconomically strapped women potentially lose their life over a cancer that is remedied when caught in its early stages." that was the end of her letter. madam president, we need to listen to voices like this. we need to listen to the women of america who rely on planned parenthood. finally, madam president, i believe this bill goes to the heart of whether we can reach common ground on something we should all agree on, the need to find ways to reduce the need for abortions in america. now, let me say at the outset, i strongly believe that we must preserve the right of every woman to her own reproductive
4:40 pm
choices that exist under the supreme court's decision in roe v. wade. but to reduce the number of abortions, we must prevent unwanted pregnancies. just as we must also support women who want to carry their pregnancies to term. that is precisely what title 10 funding accomplishes. family planning services at title 10 health centers, including, including planned parenthood, prevent an estimated 973,000 unintended pregnancies a year. this, in turn, obviates what a woman might turn to in desperation for hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. unfortunately, during the debate on planned parenthood in recent days, we have heard many wild and inaccurate claims about the work of this dedicated organization. on that score, i have always agreed with our former colleague, the late senator pat
4:41 pm
moynihan, who said that -- quote -- "people are entitled to their own opinions, but they're not entitled to their own facts." well, last week, our distinguished colleague, the junior senator from arizona, stood here on the floor of the senate and stated that abortion -- quote -- "is well over 90% of what planned parenthood does." end quote. he stated it right here on the senate floor, by the junior senator from arizona. of course that is grossly inaccurate. planned parenthood spends the overwhelming majority of its resources keeping women healthy and preventing the need for abortion in the first place. the fact, the fact, the fact is that just 3% of planned parenthood services are related to abortion. when news organizations ask the office of the senator from arizona for evidence of his claim, a spokesperson bizarrely stated, and i quote -- "his
4:42 pm
remark was not intended to be a factual statement." end quote. well, what was it intended to be? madam president, the floor of the senate is not a place for destructive and false assertions, especially when used to argue that an organization should be redlined and singled out for discrimination. for the record, planned parenthood is one of the most respected women's health organizations in the united states. it courageously defends the right of women in america to make informed, independent decisions about their health and family planning, by providing women with counsel and contraception, planned parenthood prevents countless unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduces the number of abortions in this country. and, madam president, lest there be any misunderstanding, i intend this as a factual statement. now, let me conclude by making clear that the one certain
4:43 pm
impact of this bill, if it was passed, will be to increase the number of abortions in america. this bill would dramatically erode the effectiveness of title 10 in preventing unintended pregnancies, preventing sexually transmitted infections, detecting cancers early, keeping people healthy through quality preventative care. it would have this impact because this misguided bill would ban, would ban an extraordinarily successful organization, planned parenthood, from providing these services. so on this bill, we have to say no to unintended pregnancies and unnecessary abortions. say no to this misguided and counterproductive bill. so, madam president, we have this vote on the budget, then we have these two sideline votes.
4:44 pm
one that would defund the affordable care act and send us back to the bad old days of health insurance companies deciding who gets what when at insanely big profits to them. secondly, it would ban planned parenthood from even applying, even applying to be a provider of health resources and services to 5.2 million women every year in this country. so, madam president, i hope that congress, the senate, will rise above these misguided bills, will rise above unfactual assertions made upon the floor of the senate, no matter how they were intended, and will make sure that planned parenthood can continue to provide the vital services it does in this country.
4:45 pm
madam president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:46 pm
4:47 pm
mr. mccain: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended and i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: after much drama and anticipation late last friday night, literally minutes before the government was scheduled to shut down, as we all know, a deal was struck to pass a week-long continuing resolution and keep the government operating. that was the seventh continuing resolution we passed since the start of the fiscal year last october. now we're appearing to consider the eighth and final continuing resolution to fund the government for the remaining five months of the fiscal year. amazing. eight continuing resolutions were necessary to fund the government for one year because my friends on the other side of the aisle neglected to bring a single one of the annual
4:48 pm
appropriations bill to the floor for consideration last year. as my colleagues know, in addition to continuing funding for all government operations, the measure we will consider tomorrow includes appropriations for the department of defense for the remainder of the fiscal year. unfortunately, on top of the typical run-of-the-mill washington budget gimmickry, this agreement also contains a gross misallocation of imperative defense resources. the defense funding portion of this bill proposes $513 billion for the routine operations of the department of defense and approximately $17 billion in military construction for a total of $530 billion. this amount is $19 billion less than the president's fiscal year 2011 budget request for the defense department and its related military construction projects and $10 billion less
4:49 pm
than the $540 billion the secretary of defense had testified was the minimum amount the department needed to execute its national defense mission. in addition, this bill also funds an additional $157.8 billion for overseas contingency operations or war funding to support our troops in combat consistent with the president's budget request. i might add that the amount secretary gates described as essential in january did not foresee that the united states would have expended more than $650 million enforcing the no-fly zone in libya, an amount that will most likely increase over the remaining months of the fiscal year. while this may seem like a defense funding level that we can live with in a tough fiscal climate, the bill is not what it appears to be on the surface. as the secretary of defense pointed out last week, funding to support the war fighter is
4:50 pm
degraded in this bill because billions inform war funding -- billions in the war funding accounts -- my staff has estimated close to $8 billion -- have been allocated by the appropriations committee for new spending not requested by the administration or transferred to pay items that were originally requested in the base budget for non-war related expenses. for instance, the bill shifts $3.2 billion in non-war funding to the war funding account to artificially lower defense spending for day-to-day operations but by doing so reduces funds for the war fighter. here's an example. the appropriators have added $495 million for nine additional f-18's and funds them as part of the war funding budget even though we've not lost any f-18's in the current conflicts. additionally, the appropriators added $4.8 billion in
4:51 pm
unrequested funding to the war funding part of the defense bill for programs and activities that the president and secretary gates did not seek. for example, $192 million was added for additional missile defense interceptors. there was no administration request for these funds and missile defense expenses are in no way related to the wars in iraq and afghanistan. so this bill uses gimmicks and shell games to artificially lower the defense base budget rather than playing by the rules and actually demonstrating our committee to physician -- our commitment to fiscal responsibility. by doing so, it takes away billions of dollars that were originally requested for ongoing combat operations in iraq and afghanistan to support our troops where it is most needed. within the $19 billion lower top line of the base defense budget, this bill continues business as
4:52 pm
usual with cuts exceeding $5 billion to the amounts the president and secretary gates requested for critical defense programs in order to pay for over $3.7 billion in unjustified and unexplained increases to other accounts. in addition to these shifts away from the department of defense priorities, this bill also adds over $1.4 billion for projects that were not requested by the department and are not considered core activities by the department of defense. let me give you examples of these misallocated resources. it includes $473 million in nondepartment of defense medical research not requested in the president's budget. $227 million in other medical research related to department of defense fields but not requested by the pentagon.
4:53 pm
$550 million for local roads and schools not requested by the administration. it adds an additional $3.7 million bill -- $3.7 billion in program increases not justified by an unfunded request by the service chiefs or by the administration. adds an unrequested funds for the red cross, $24 million. special olympics, $1.2 million. youth mentoring programs, $20 million. these are good programs but they have no place in the department of defense. they should be in other areas. cuts about $1 billion many military construction requested in the president's budget, including $258 million for projects in bahrain, the headquarters of the navy's fifth fleet. it adds a reporting provision designed to be the first step in forcing the national guard to buy firefighting aircraft rather
4:54 pm
than lease commercially available aircraft. it authorizes a multiyear procurement of navy mh-60 helicopters. i want to be clear here. i know that cancer research is a popular cause on a bipartisan basis and that it has value in the larger scheme of things. i'm not against funding for medical research to fight the scourge of cancer and other diseases. i support funding for these programs that are requested by the administration for the department of health and human services. but this sort of general medical research funding has no place in a defense bill. placing it there, which the appropriators have done year after year, undercuts the fiscal responsibility and prioritization process that we expect our federal agencies to undertake when allocating scarce resources. so the president -- the
4:55 pm
department of defense is not only getting a significantly lower amount in its 2011 budget, $19 billion below what it asked for to support its routine operations and carry out its day-to-day national security mission, and $10 billion below what secretary gates said in january was essential for the department's ability to continue to function, but it's also being directed to spend about $8 billion in funding for items that do not directly support the men and women in the military. let me point out one more disturbing aspect of the d.o.d. portion of this bill. i understand from an exchange between my staff and the staff of the senate appropriation committees that the committee is appropriating only -- quote -- "top-line dollar amounts in this bill" and not providing the customary tables, which is the description, for each account which outlines the spefbs of what is being -- specifics of what is being funded. instead, i have learned the
4:56 pm
committee plans to communicate directly with the office of the secretary of defense on funding levels and specific items. i don't have a problem with the appropriations committee providing a top-line dollar amount to the pentagon and allowing the secretary of defense to fund our national security priorities as he sees fit. i am deeply concerned about the lack of transparency associated with this plan. and i hope it's not a way to get around the earmark moratorium currently in place in both houses. if a member of congress is dictating through the appropriations committee the use of scarce defense funds, it's an earmark, even if it was done over the phone. i urge the department of defense to not view such communications as law or a mandate. as i noted earlier, in addition to the misallocation of defense resources, this so-called deal uses typical washington smoke and mirror -- smoke-and-mirror tactics to achieve savings.
4:57 pm
according to expert analysis and numerous press reports, the agreement reached by negotiators last week use the some o used se budget tricks and gimmickry that helped us to accumulate our current deficit of $1.4 trillion and a debt of over $14. $14.3 trillion. yesterday in an article by andrew taylor of the associated press, it was reported the details of last week's hard-won agreement to avoid a government shutdown and cut federal spending by $38 billion were released tuesday morning. they reveal that the budget cuts, while historic, were significantly eased by pruning money left over from previous years using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs president obama had targeted anyway. the article also noted the details of the agreement -- quote -- "reveal a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially score as cuts to pay for spending elsewhere but often
4:58 pm
have little or no impact on the deficit." additionally, in an editorial that appeared in today's "wall street journal" entitled -- quote -- "spending cut hocum, g.o.p. leaders hype their budget savings." in part, the editorial states, "after separating the accounting gimmicks in and one-year savings, the actual cuts look to be closer to $20 billion than to the $38 billion that both sides advertised. but the continuing resolution also saves money on paper through phantom cuts. the whopper is declaring $6.2 billion in savings by not spending money left from the 2010 census. congress also cuts $4.9 billion from the justice department's crime victim funds but much of that money was tucked away in a reserve fund that wouldn't have been spent this year in any event. the budgeteers claimed $630 million in cuts from what are called 'orphan earmarks' or
4:59 pm
construction that never started and $2 billion more for transportation projects, some of which were likely to be cancel canceled." the associated press reports that $350 million in savings comes from a 2009 program to pay dairy farmers to compensate for low milk prices. milk prices are higher this year so some of that money also would never have been spent. an estimated $17 billion come from one-time savings in mandatory programs. the cuts are real but the funding gets restored by law the next year, which means republicans will have to refight the same battles. states lose some $3.5 billion in bonus money to enroll more kids in the children's health insurance program, but many states fail to qualify for that extra funding. these cuts don't reduce the spending baseline so there are no compound savings over time. none of this is enough to defeat

36 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on